The US funding recently granted by congress is an important part of the Ukrainian defence budget

11.12.2019

The US funding recently granted by congress is an important part of the Ukrainian defence budget but arguably it is not as well used as it should be. In the first place the money is organised by the Embassy through the office of defence cooperation (ODC). But the ODC chief sits not in the MOD or general staff where he could be on top of the business but in a separate building miles away. Secondly the Military still have not shown themselves capable of using the money properly. They were unable to convince the USA that Javelin was safe in Ukrainian hands and the launchers and missiles sit in store far behind the front line. This complex missile needs constant practice by soldiers tasked to fire it. They do not and will not get this. Any future major operation and the weapons may simply arrive with poorly trained operators too late for the main battle. The javelins need a whole new specially designed highly mobile anti-tank unit.

The training money could also be better spent. The US training is still not formalised as part of the Ukrainian training system but sits, in extra fashion, on top of the system that itself needs reform. But there is little systematic change on the horizon. This means that much of the training money is not used to optimum.

The key thing about the money is political and moral. But even this shows weaknesses in the Ukrainian position. Israel for example gets 10 times as much and even Jordan gets 350m in defence funding. This shows that there is much political and trust building work still to be done in the US. The stories of corruption remain a strong barrier to further progress.

The conclusion must be that Ukraine is lucky to get this money but needs to be far more thoughtful about how it is managed and what results are expected from it.

Glen Grant, expert on National Security and Defense of Ukraine of the Ukrainian Institute for the Future