US and NATO Have Delivered 17,000 Anti-Tank Weapons to Ukraine in Six Days
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley went last week to an undisclosed airfield near the Ukrainian border that has become a hub for shipping weapons, a senior Defense Department official said, seeing firsthand the multinational effort to get weapons into Ukraine amid Russia’s unprovoked invasion.
While at the airfield, Milley met with troops and personnel and examined the shipment activity, the official said Friday. The site has become a beehive of activity in recent days, going from a handful of flights each day to as many as 17, the field’s maximum capacity.
The airport’s location remains a secret to protect the shipments of weapons, including anti-armor missiles, into Ukraine. The Russian military has not targeted these shipments once they enter Ukraine, the official said, but there is some concern Russia could begin targeting the deliveries as its assault advances.
The US and other NATO members have so far sent Ukraine 17,000 anti-tank missiles and 2,000 stinger anti-aircraft missiles, a senior US official told CNN.
Since even before Russia’s invasion began late last month, the skies above Europe have been filled with military cargo aircraft of the US and others, particularly C-17s, the backbone of the US airlift fleet. The flights have been repositioning troops along NATO’s eastern flank, but also moving weapons to the transfer points where they can be delivered to Ukraine. The pace of the flights has only increased.
US European Command (EUCOM) is at the heart of the massive shipment operation, using its liaison network with allies and partners to coordinate “in real time” to send materials into Ukraine, a second Defense official said.
EUCOM is also coordinating with other countries, including the United Kingdom, in terms of the delivery process “to ensure that we are using our resources to maximum efficiency to support the Ukrainians in an organized way,” the official added.
Since Russia’s invasion began, 14 countries have sent security assistance to Ukraine, the official said, some of whom had rarely sent such substantial equipment before.
The “vast majority” of a $350 million US security assistance package has already been delivered to Ukraine, according to the official, only one week after it was officially approved by the White House.
Approximately $240 million of the package has reached Ukraine, and the rest should arrive within days and maybe weeks, “but not longer,” the official said Friday. The components that have already been delivered include “the most needed capabilities, like anti-armor capabilities.”
The speed at which the US now delivers weapons to Ukraine is dramatically faster than just two months ago. Most of a $200 million package approved in late December was delivered within a month, though some ammunition has yet to be shipped, the official said.
Meanwhile, the complete $350 million package, which the official described as the largest presidential drawdown in history, should be completed within days or weeks.
In less than a week, the United States and NATO have pushed more than 17,000 antitank weapons, including Javelin missiles, over the borders of Poland and Romania, unloading them from giant military cargo planes so they can make the trip by land to Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital, and other major cities. So far, Russian forces have been so preoccupied in other parts of the country that they have not targeted the arms supply lines, but few think that can last.