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24 June 2016

Ukraine Seeks Radars, Anti-Drone Weapons

WASHINGTON. Although it still hopes to gain approval to purchase lethal weaponry from the US, the Ukrainian military is focused on procuring defensive capabilities that will assist it in the short term.

During a June 17 interview with Defense News, Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze, vice prime minister of Ukraine for European and Euro-Atlantic integration, said her nation needs high-end capabilities in order to match up with Russian forces using the disputed territory as a "training ground" for its "most modern equipment."

"In terms of defensive weapons, there are radars that we need to make sure we are protecting our soldiers from the attacks. Anti-drone weapons and artillery, anti-tank [weapons], that is something we have to deal with," Klympush-Tsintsadze said. "We are so far definitely concentrating on defensive weapons, and that is something that helps us to build defense capabilities."

The US has previously provided Humvees and unarmed Raven drones, as well as smaller items such as night vision goggles, to Ukraine, but has consistently stopped short of providing more advanced weaponry.

Some, such as former secretary of defense Chuck Hagel, have cautioned against sending Ukraine high-end technologies, in part because of concerns that the military simply is not sophisticated enough to use it.

Klympush-Tsintsadze said that part of her visit was to persuade US officials about "all the progress that we`ve been showing, what we are achieving" as a military nation. Notably, one meeting she had was with Rose Gottemoeller, under secretary of state for arms control and international security, who oversees potential weapons transfers to partner nations.

While focused on defensive weapons, the hope remains that in the long-term, the US and other allies will open up more lethal weaponry as options for Ukraine.

"We are not giving up on persuading our partners that lethal weapons would be the answer at some point," the minister said. "Ukraine has never been the nation that ever conquered anybody, so even lethal weapons would be something to protect ourselves and makes sure we are capable of protecting our land and people."

Ukraine has expressed interest in counter-tank weapons like the Javelin. It has one notable supporter in that quest: Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, the recently appointed head of US European Command (EUCOM) and the top military official in NATO.

At an April 21 hearing, Scaparrotti told US Senators that "I think there is a requirement for an anti-tank weapon like Javelin in [Ukraine`s] situation."

For more from Klympush-Tsintsadze, watch the July 3 on Defense News TV.

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