The latest shipment of weapons from the U.S. arrived in Ukraine on Friday ahead of President Joe Biden‘s commitment to deploy troops to Eastern Europe without NATO‘s backing as Russia amassed more than 100,000 troops at its border.
U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin confirmed that a plane loaded with Javelin anti-tank missiles, anti-armor weapons, grenade launches, artillery, small arms and ammunition has arrived in Ukraine.
It is the fourth part of a $200 million shipment of American military aid that is being sent to help its ally as Biden warned that U.S, troops would be sent near the Russian-Ukraine border ‘in the near term’.
However, he said, they would not necessarily be deployed as part of a NATO force.
‘I’ll be moving troops to Eastern Europe and the NATO countries in the near term. Not too many,’ Biden said as he got off Air Force One after a trip to Pittsburgh.
NATO has failed to come up with a common position on deploying troops to the region with many of its 30-strong members against military action.
A US cargo plan carrying Javelin anti-tank missiles, anti-armor weapons, grenade launches, artillery, small arms and ammunition arrived in Ukraine on Friday.
It is the fourth part of a $200 million shipment of American military aid that is being sent to help its ally after Russia mobilized more than 100,000 troops to its border with Ukraine
Among the weapons are the Javelins, American-made missiles that use infrared technology to lock on to targets, rising high into the air before slamming down
The shipment was delivered to Kiev ahead of possible Russian aggression ahead of Biden’s announcement that he would deploy troops to Eastern Europe
As the weapons were delivered in the Ukraine, a local serviceman showed American allies a mortar shell he says was fired by hostile Russians
President Joe Biden has said he would deploy US troops to Eastern Europe
The latest delivery of arms comes after an 80-tonne shipment of US anti-tank missiles worth some $50 million arrived in Ukraine on Tuesday.
The shipment also contained grenade launchers and ammunition, as well as other non-lethal weapons systems, and comes in addition to anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons already sent by the UK, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
Javelins are American-made missiles that use infrared technology to lock on to targets, rising high into the air before slamming down – making them especially deadly against tanks because their armor is thinnest on top, though Javelins can also be used to blow up buildings.
In addition to the Javelins, Ukraine has been given American Stinger missiles which use similar technology to take out aircraft and helicopters, as well as British-made NLAWs – another kind of anti-tank rocket.
Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov had tweeted on Sunday night that the government had received a second shipment of weapons from the United States.
‘The second bird in Kyiv! More than 80 tons of weapons to strengthen Ukraine’s defense capabilities from our friends in the USA! And this is not the end,’ Reznikov tweeted, together with photos of the incendiary cargo.
While such weapons are unlikely to tip any conflict decisively in Ukraine’s favor, they are designed to inflict punishing losses on Putin’s forces to make any invasion as costly and bloody for Moscow as possible.
Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs Gen. Mark Milley had warned of mass casualties in Ukraine and Eastern Europe should Russia attack with such a large force.
‘This is larger in scale and scope, and the massing of forces than anything we’ve seen in recent memory,’ Milley said.
Given the forces Putin has at his disposal, ‘if that was unleashed on Ukraine, it would be significant, very significant, and it would result in a significant amount of casualties,’ he added.
‘You can imagine what that might look like in dense urban areas, along roads, and so on and so forth. It would be horrific. It would be terrible. And it’s not necessary. And we think a diplomatic outcome is the way to go here.’
Russia could attack Ukraine within weeks, intelligence sources have said, after Biden shared a phone call with President Zelensky last night during which he warned an attack is likely to come in February
An American shipment of 300 anti-tank Javelin missiles worth $50million landed in Kiev on Tuesday, the third batch of a $200million military aid package designed to bring death and destruction to Russia’s forces if Putin invades
American Javelin missiles are unloaded from an American transport plane in Kiev, designed to inflict punishing losses on Putin’s force if he decides to invade
‘Javelins in Kyiv! A new cargo of security aid – launchers & missiles – with a total weight of about 80 tons,’ Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov tweeted
US Javelin missile vs Russian T-72 tank: How ‘curveball’ killer is designed to destroy Putin’s war machines
The FGM-148 Javelin is a US-made missile that is primarily designed to destroy tanks, using a combination of ‘curveball’ attack – meaning it comes down on its targets from above – and dual high explosive warheads to take them out.
Javelins, which cost $175,000 each just for the missile, were developed in the 1990s and have been in service since 1996 – coming up against Russian-designed T-72 tanks during the Second Iraq War, where they proved particularly effective.
Russia still uses T-72 tanks – with dozens of T-72Bs now deployed near Ukraine – and while they have undergone several rounds of improvements since Saddam’s day, they are still thought to be vulnerable to the missile.
Javelins work by using infrared systems to lock on to their targets, meaning troops do not need to keep aiming after pulling the trigger. Once the missile is fired, it ejects from the tube using a small charge – so it can be fired in a confined space – before the main rockets ignite.
The missile then flies up to 490ft into the air before slamming down on its target from above – known as a ‘curveball’ shot.
Javelin missiles use a ‘curveball’ shot – approaching their target from above – which makes them especially deadly against tanks which have less armor on the top. They also have two warheads which are designed to overcome ‘reactive’ armor that Russia uses
A Russian T-72 tank is pictured on training exercises near Ukraine last week. Visible on the turret are ‘reactive’ armor plates – the rectangular boxes filled with explosives that detonate when struck, throwing incoming missiles off course
Russian T-72s are known to be fitted with up to 850mm of armor on their bodies, with the Javelin only able to penetrate through 800mm. But the armor on the top is significantly thinner, meaning the Javelin is easily able to breach it.
In order to combat this weakness, Russian tank turrets are typically fitted with ‘reactive’ armor, made of metal sheets layered with small explosive charges that detonate when they are struck. Simply fitting thicker armor would make the tanks too heavy and slow.
Explosions from ‘reactive’ armor are too small to damage the tank, but large enough to throw incoming projectiles off course. The system is thought to add as much protection as up to 800mm of conventional armor.
But the Javelin has an answer to this, in the form of a high-explosive ‘tandem’ warhead. This means it is fitted with two charges that strike the exact same spot in quick succession.
The first is a small charge designed to set off the reactive armor, which is then ineffective. Then a second, much-larger charge, punches through the conventional armor underneath.
Putin’s generals are clearly worried about this, because last November T-72 tanks began appearing on the frontlines with Ukraine with strange umbrella-like modifications over their main turrets – seemingly designed to defeat Javelins.
It is unclear whether such armor would even work, and what effects it might have on the tank’s ability to maneuver and shoot, but most tanks seen on the Russian frontlines in recent weeks don’t appear to have it fitted – meaning they are still vulnerable to attack.
Javelins can also be fired conventionally with a range of up to two and a half miles, meaning they can also be used to blow up buildings, shoot troops hiding in tunnels or caves, and can even attack low-flying or hovering helicopters.
And because Javelins are relatively small, lightweight, and can be carried by troops, it means they can be quickly transported to battlefields and deployed without the need to move or deploy accompanying vehicles.
Putin’s generals are clearly worried they are vulnerable to Javelins, because in recent months tanks have appeared on the frontlines fitted with makeshift armour over the main turret that appears designed to protect against them – though it is not clear this will work
A Ukrainian soldier aims a Javelin launcher from the top of an armoured vehicle during a military parade in Kiev in 2018. The weapons can also be carried into battle by troops and fired over-the-shoulder
As the Ukraine continues to receive supply support from its allies, Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed to hold talks with Ukraine, Germany, and France, cutting out NATO and the US from the peace negotiations.
The blow to NATO and exclusion of America in the peace talks on the Russian-Ukraine crisis came after Putin accused the U.S. and NATO of ignoring the Kremlin’s ‘fundamental concerns’ over NATO’s growth during a call with French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday.
During the call, Putin argued that the West had refused Russians demands of ‘preventing NATO expansion, refusing to deploy strike weapons systems near Russian borders’ and withdrawing allied forces to positions they held in 1997, prior to NATO’s expansion into Eastern Europe, Politico reported.
Rather than meet with NATO, Putin has agreed to discuss the issue with the European-led Normandy Format, a grouping that includes France, Germany, Ukraine and Russia. Their meetings center on the cease-fire agreement that the countries brokered in eastern Ukraine in 2015, and it also offers a path to a broader settlement.
Putin said he had ‘no offensive plans’ in eastern Ukraine, according to Macron, who said the nations’ talks would focus on ‘de-escalation’ along the Ukraine-Russian border, the New York Times reported.
The Normandy Format will meet in Berlin in two weeks..
Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) and French President Emmanuel Macron, pictured in 2020, spoke over the phone on Friday and agreed to meet with the Normandy Format in Berlin in two week, which excludes the US and NATO, to discuss the crisis in the Ukraine
The new negotiate Biden said he would deploy troops to the Ukraine-Russian border, a move that NATO has yet to endorse or reject
NATO member countries located closer to Russia fear antagonizing Putin while countries such as Germany rely on Russia for 50 per cent of their gas.
Just one country can veto any action by the entire alliance.
Earlier this week, the Pentagon told 8,500 troops in the U.S. to be on high alert for a potential deployment to Eastern Europe, as Russia has already amassed over 100,000 troops at the Ukraine border.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed the global media in Kiev Friday and pushed back on world leaders who have publicly stressed the prospect of Russian invasion – following a call with President Biden where the president raised the ‘distinct possibility’ Russian troops would soon overrun his country.
‘There are signals even from respected leaders of states, they just say that tomorrow there will be war. This is panic – how much does it cost for our state?’ said Zelensky.
He indirectly criticized the decision by the U.S. to pull family members of diplomats out of the country as yet another measure that could feed ‘panic’ that could be counterproductive.
‘We don’t have a Titanic here,’ he said.
‘I don’t consider the situation now more tense than before. There is a feeling abroad that there is war here. That’s not the case,’ said Zelensky. ‘I am not saying an escalation is not possible…(but) we don’t need this panic,’ he said.
He even made a ‘Don’t Look Up’ reference after the Leonardo DiCaprio film on Netflix about an imminent asteroid heading for the planet, after he was compared to hapless leaders online, the Guardian reported.
With Britain withdrawing diplomats even as the Greeks maintained their presence, Zelensky said: ‘The captains should not leave the ship. I don’t think we have a Titanic here.’
His reassurances came on a day when Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Mark Milley warned of the stakes and spoke to U.S. military preparations to assist NATO allies.
‘There’s a potential that they could launch on very, very little warning,’ assessed General Mark Milley, Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, who warned of ‘horrific’ consequences should Russia mobilize it’s 100,000 troops already at the Ukraine border
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the 100,000-plus Troops Russia has positioned ‘far and away exceeds what we typically see them do for exercises. ‘It’s very concerning,’ he said
‘We don’t have a Titanic here,’ he said Volodymyr Zelensky, President of Ukraine. Amid public talk of a Russian invasion, he said: ‘We don’t need this panic’
Asked whether Putin has enough troops for a full-scale invasion of its neighbor, Austin replied: ‘I mean, you’ve heard the chairman say earlier that he’s got north of 100,000 troops in the border region. That gives him a number of options. What he’s done as he’s continued to move troops and resources into the region is increased his options. And so, we won’t predict where his decisions will take him, but we remain concerned about the range of options that that he could pursue and will stay focused on this problem set.’
Milley said the pair do not believe Putin has made a decision. But he added: ‘Sure, with 1000 troops. You’ve got combined arms formations, ground maneuver, artillery, rockets, you got air and all the other piece parts that go with it. There’s a potential that they could launch on very, very little warning. That’s possible. And there’s a wide scale of options that are available to Russian leadership. The best option they should pick, in my view, is a diplomatic solution to resolve whatever differences they have,’ he said.
‘If war were to break out on the scale and scope that is possible, the civilian population would suffer immensely,’ Milley said at the Pentagon. Austin said the 100,000-plus Troops Russia has positioned ‘far and away exceeds what we typically see them do for exercises. ‘It’s very concerning,’ he said.