The anti-aircraft systems were obtained by Washington to study Russian capabilities and train American troops to defeat them
FILE PHOTO. An Anti-aircraft OSA system in Warsaw, Poland. ©Karol Serewis / Gallo Images Poland / Getty Images
The US is planning to deliver to Ukraine medium anti-aircraft systems taken from its own stockpile of Soviet military hardware, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday, citing unnamed US officials.
The anti-aircraft systems were obtained through a clandestine program to study them and teach American troops how to counter them. Ukrainian forces are trained in the use of these systems, which they have operated for decades.
At least some of the supplies will be withdrawn from the Redstone Arsenal in Alabama, officials told the newspaper, adding that C-17 Globemaster cargo planes recently flew to a nearby airfield in Huntsville.
Washington “is hoping that the provision of additional air defenses will enable Ukraine to create a de facto no-fly zone,” the newspaper said. NATO members have repeatedly rebuffed Kiev’s call to establish a no-fly zone over Ukraine, stating that it would draw them directly into the hostilities and could lead to a world war.
The list of equipment slated for delivery does not include the S-300 long-range missiles, the report said. The US reportedly purchased at least one such battery from Belarus in the 1990s in a clandestine operation. But Washington plans to supply shorter-range 9K33 Osa systems, according to WSJ sources.
Last Wednesday, CNN’s Jim Sciutto reported that the US and NATO allies were going to send to Ukraine an array of Soviet air defense systems with capabilities better than the shoulder-launched Stinger missiles delivered in the hundreds in the weeks before the Russian attack.
New: US & NATO allies are sending several surface-to-air missiles systems to Ukraine. A senior US official tells me these systems include Soviet-era SA-8, SA-10, SA-12 and SA-14 mobile air defense systems, w/range higher than Stingers, giving capability to hit cruise missiles.
— Jim Sciutto (@jimsciutto) March 16, 2022
He was referring to a potential deal with Slovakia, which later confirmed it was willing to share its own S-300 systems with Ukraine. Slovakia’s defense minister, Jaroslav Nad, told a news conference on Thursday that he discussed the plan with his visiting US counterpart, Lloyd Austin, and that his country wanted to receive “a proper replacement” first.
The Russian military reported destroying multiple Ukrainian S-300 batteries over the nearly month-long attack. One of the stated goals of the Russian incursion is to demilitarize Ukraine and ensure that it will not pose any threat to the breakaway regions of Donetsk and Lugansk, which Moscow recognized as independent states prior to the attack.
Moscow has warned that it will consider convoys delivering arms to Ukraine as legitimate targets for its armed forces. The WSJ didn’t explain the proposed logistics of the delivery of the US-owned anti-aircraft systems.