Ukraine hopes U.S.-made javelin missiles can stop Russia’s tank fleet
Written by Paul Antonopoulos, independent geopolitical analyst
Washington and Kiev signed a new agreement on Tuesday aimed at not only joint cooperation in the Black Sea, but also in the field of cybersecurity and information sharing. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin also announced a new $60 million assistance package for Ukraine that includes portable Javelin anti-tank missiles. President Joe Biden told Congress that the military assistance package is for “critical border security and self-defense needs” to help Ukraine defend itself from supposed Russian aggression.
“Russia’s buildup along the Ukrainian border has highlighted capability shortfalls in the Ukrainian military’s ability to defend against a Russian incursion,” read Biden’s notification to Congress. “Ukraine’s significant capability gaps must be urgently addressed to reinforce deterrence in light of the current Russian threat.”
Welcoming Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky to the Pentagon on Tuesday, Austin said “Our support for Ukraine sovereignty, territorial integrity, and Euro-Atlantic aspirations is unwavering. We again call on Russia to end the occupation of Crimea and to stop perpetuating the conflict in eastern Ukraine, and we will continue to stand with you in the face of this Russian aggression.”
Last Friday, Biden ordered Secretary of State Antony Blinken to help Ukraine acquire defense goods and services from Pentagon funds. Since 2014, Washington has provided about $2.5 billion in military aid to Kiev.
However, the purchase of Javelin missiles is telling when considering that Russia has the largest fleet of tanks in the world. According to Global Fire Power, Russia has 13,000 tanks, more than double the U.S.’ 6,100. In this way, it is evident that the U.S. is arming Ukraine to deal with Russia’s superior tank fleet in any hypothetical war.
It must be remembered that only earlier this year, Zelensky instigated a near-war situation when he ordered the Ukrainian military to be mobilized in preparation of an assault against the people of Donbass. Ultimately, war was avoided thanks to the rapid mobilization of the Russian military, thus discouraging any Ukrainian adventures.
This incident demonstrated the limitations of the Ukrainian military when faced off against Russia and triggered the transfer of anti-tank Javelin missiles from the U.S. to Ukraine. Although the U.S. heralds the Javelin missile as a Russian tank killer, Dave Majumdar, defense editor for The National Interest, had to concede that until a Russian tank crew “meets a competently trained force equipped with modern anti-tank missiles on [a] real battlefield—it’s hard to say how effective these weapons really are.”
Washington has identified Ukraine as a key country in their attempts to contain Russian influence over Eurasia. However, the country is deeply flawed with a high level of corruption and authoritarianism, something that Western liberals accuse Russia of but never Ukraine. Due to the hopes of Ukraine becoming a bulwark in limiting Russian influence in the region, the U.S. not only provided javelin missiles, but also signed a joint cooperation agreement relating to the Black Sea.
Austin told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Defense Minister Andriy Taran during their visit to the Pentagon on Tuesday that “the United States will continue to urge Russia to end its illegal occupation of Ukraine’s Crimea and looks to strengthen bonds between the United States and Ukraine.” It also revealed that the two countries aim to deepen cooperation in Black Sea security.
It is recalled that on June 23 Britain was humiliated in the Black Sea after HMS Defender violated Russian maritime space but then fled in panic as the Russian military arrived. The British government denied the incident, but this was disproven by British media, including by the state-funded BBC. The U.S. also observed Britain’s humiliation in the Black Sea and is now wanting to be more directly involved in containing Russia. This will prove to be a difficult task.
Russia dominated the Black Sea for centuries until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. The reunification of Crimea with Russia in 2014 reasserted Moscow’s dominance over the Black Sea, and this would prove especially crucial in protecting national security when considering that NATO allowed Bulgaria and Romania into the bloc for the sole fact that they are Black Sea countries. It is also why NATO identified Georgia and Ukraine as key non-member partners of the bloc in their hostility against Russia.
However, their collective efforts are still incapable of dislodging Russia as the dominant power in the Black Sea. The fact that Washington still hinges on Kiev to weaken Russia demonstrates the limitations the Americans have in being able to project their power over the Black Sea as Ukraine is certainly not the gamechanger that they had hoped for.
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