Wess Mitchell, who served as the Trump administration’s senior State Department official overseeing European and Eurasian affairs, noted that the javelin and other deadly weapons were not designed for first use, but to deter Moscow from attacking Ukrainian territory.
But while Washington urges Kyiv to use Javelins only for defensive purposes and demands that weapons be stored in a safe place away from the conflict, there are no geographical restrictions on the actual deployment of the missiles, US officials said, meaning Ukrainian forces can transport, distribute and use them at any time.
“Javelins are defensive weapons, and the United States expects Ukraine to use them responsibly and strategically when necessary for defensive purposes,”
If the Javelins are moved, it does not necessarily mean that they would be used – according to Kyiv’s estimates, the threshold for actual firing of the weapons has not yet been reached, according to two Ukrainians familiar with the discussions. They said the red line would be if Russian tanks crossed over into Ukrainian territory.
The current Russian movement in Eastern Europe is exactly the kind of scenario that Javelin sales were designed to address, he said. two former senior U.S. defense officials who know the deal.
“I’m sure there’s a discussion going on,” the person said. “It’s a no-brainer.”
An official close to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said any discussion about moving Javelins had not reached presidential level and that no decision had been made on whether to install them. Zelensky is eager to escalate tensions, so he would not be naturally inclined to move weapons to the east, said another person close to the Ukrainian president.
U.S. officials said they were not aware of any decisions to deploy Javelins.
Senior Ukrainian officials are not yet convinced that the structure of the troop means that Russia is planning an invasion – the fact that troop movements have been so public and moving on in the open for more than two weeks suggests to Kiev that Moscow may just is saber-rattling to try to create leverage with the new Biden administration.
But Ukrainian officials are still nervous that the conflict could escalate dramatically and with little warning. At least seven Ukrainian soldiers have been killed since the end of last month amid a sharp rise in the Donbass region, where Ukrainian government forces have been battling Russia-backed separatists since 2014.
President Joe Biden and Zelensky spoke for the first time this month amid escalating tensions. A White House reading of the conversation said Biden “reaffirmed the United States’ unwavering support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in light of Russia’s continued aggression in [Donbass] and Crimea. ”
The United States has provided Ukraine with 2 billion. Dollars in security assistance since 2014, including two tranches of spear missiles and other military equipment. Biden, who unsuccessfully pushed to provide lethal aid to Kiev under the Obama administration, also recently approved additional $ 125 million in lethal aid to help the country defend its borders, including two armed patrol boats and counter-artillery radar.
The javelin lines are still an incomplete solution to Russia’s aggression. Jim Townsend, a Pentagon official under the Obama administration, said that while the missile launch itself would not be escalating, they would be of limited use if the Russians did not plan to mount a conventional attack with armored vehicles.
“If the Russians are capable of anything and that ‘something’ does not involve armor, then the Javelin do not matter,” said Townsend, who continued to refer to Russia’s paramilitary forces that invaded Crimea in 2014. “For example, the Javelins are not useful if the Russians use ‘little green men’ to infiltrate Ukrainian lines. “