The Cradle, October 5, 2023 —
NATO officials have warned that ‘the bottom of the barrel is now visible’ in regard to western military aid to Ukraine at the same time as US spending to fuel the war is finding strong opposition in Congress.
US officials announced on 4 October that about 1.1 million rounds of Iranian ammunition “confiscated” in the Persian Gulf last December have been transferred to Ukraine.
“The US government transferred approximately 1.1 million 7.62mm rounds to the Ukrainian armed forces [on Monday],” US Central Command (CENTCOM) said in a statement, adding that it had “obtained ownership of these munitions on 20 July, 2023, through the Department of Justice’s civil forfeiture claims.”
The DOJ gained ownership of the seized ammo by claiming the shipment was being “smuggled” to Yemen’s Ansarallah resistance in violation of a UN arms embargo.
“With this weapons transfer, the justice department’s forfeiture actions against one authoritarian regime are now directly supporting the Ukrainian people’s fight against another authoritarian regime,” US Attorney General, Merrick Garland, said on Wednesday. “We will continue to use every legal authority at our disposal to support Ukraine in their fight for freedom, democracy, and the rule of law.”
Washington claims to also be in possession of “9,000 assault rifles, 284 machine guns, about 194 rocket launchers, and more than 70 anti-tank guided missiles” that allegedly belong to Iran.
The ammo delivery comes at a time when Kiev is seriously hurting for weapons to push back against Russian forces. However, the 7.62mm rounds are unlikely to make a dent in the battlefield as Ukrainian officials have made it clear to their western sponsors that the country is in dire need of long-range weapons and air defense systems.
Furthermore, the shipment is not expected to allay concerns about the dwindling supply of western weapons and funding.
“The bottom of the barrel is now visible,” Dutch Admiral Rob Bauer, the chair of the NATO Military Committee and NATO’s most senior military official, said of the west’s ammunition stockpile on Tuesday during a discussion at the Warsaw Security Forum.
This crisis that was made worse earlier this week by the sacking of US lawmaker Kevin McCarthy as Speaker of the House of Representatives, in a move western outlets say will make offering blank checks to Ukraine “harder.”
“Congress included no new money for Ukraine in the stopgap U.S. spending bill it passed on Saturday to keep the federal government open, highlighting the increasing reluctance of some Republicans to provide funds for Kiev,” Reuters reports.
During the Pentagon Appropriations Act amendment process last month, more than half of Republican lower house members voted against including $300 million in Ukraine aid, while a handful of lawmakers stressed that they would not vote for any government spending bills that included money for Ukraine.
Pentagon officials on Tuesday said previously approved assistance will allow the US to maintain current levels of support to fuel the war in Ukraine for a “little bit longer” but that congressional approval for new spending will be necessary to do so in the long term.