Summary: The United States’ priority is to ensure that Ukraine has the weapons it needs to defend its territory against Russia’s further invasion. Helping to ensure Ukraine maintains control of its territory is a primary means to limit potential illicit diversion of weapons by Russia’s forces, Russia’s proxies, and non-state actors. Since Russia’s further aggression in February 2022, the United States has taken concrete steps to strengthen its abilities and those of its partners to counter threats posed by potential diversion of weapons in Eastern Europe. The Ukrainian government has committed to appropriately safeguard and account for transferred U.S.-origin defense equipment, although we recognize that the chaotic nature of combat can make this difficult. Properly securing weapons, particularly sensitive and advanced conventional weapons including Man-portable Air Defense Systems (MANPADS) and Anti-Tank/All-purpose Tactical Guided Missiles (ATGMs), is essential to post-conflict recovery and regional security. The United States will continue to assist the government of Ukraine with accounting for and securing weapons, as security conditions permit. We also will continue to assist the Government of Ukraine with clearing Explosive Remnants of War (ERW) as security conditions permit, as those activities enable on-the-ground accounting for and securing of weapons, as well as enabling a safer return for Ukrainians to their homes.
Background: Thus far, intense internal demand for use on the battlefield by Ukrainian military and security forces within Ukraine is assessed to be impeding black-market proliferation of small arms and guided infantry weapons such as MANPADS and ATGMs from Ukraine. Pro-Russian forces’ capture of Ukrainian weapons – including donated materiel – has been the main vector of diversion so far and could result in onward transfers. Russia probably will also use these weapons to develop countermeasures, propaganda, or to conduct false-flag operations.
Wars can provide opportunities for weapons to fall into private hands via theft or illicit sales, sometimes creating black markets for arms that endure for decades. A variety of criminal and non-state actors may attempt to acquire weapons from sources in Ukraine during or following the conflict, as occurred after the Balkans Wars in the 1990s.
Action Plan: Since Russia’s further aggression in February 2022, the United States has taken concrete steps to address threats posed by potential diversion of weapons. These steps include increasing our understanding of potential diversion risks, sharing information with partners, and ensuring robust oversight of U.S. assistance to Ukraine. The United States consulted with close allies and enhanced end-use monitoring mechanisms.
The plan will be a whole-of-government effort implemented broadly across three phases: now through Fiscal Year (FY) 2023, FY 2024, and beyond FY 2024. It will focus on three lines of effort:
- Bolstering the ability of security forces in Ukraine and its neighboring states to account for and safeguard their arms and ammunition during transfer, in storage, and when deployed;
- Strengthening border management and security in Ukraine and its neighboring states; and
- Building the capacity of security forces, law enforcement officials, and border control agencies in Ukraine and its neighboring states to deter, detect, and interdict illicit trafficking of certain advanced conventional weapons.
End-use monitoring (EUM) measures, as traditionally conducted by State, DoD, and Commerce, while different in their scopes and methodologies, are generally designed to mitigate the risk of illicit diversion in peacetime or low-intensity conflict environments, as they normally rely on in-country presence of U.S. government personnel. Conducting EUM in an active war zone such as Ukraine requires different approaches, as the conflict makes it impractical to request the return of equipment from the front lines to depots or other locations where U.S. government personnel can inspect them in a safer environment. This plan accounts for adjustments and innovations that may be possible to help the Ukrainian government monitor and account for the most advanced conventional weapons provided for its defense needs. These measures do not apply to weapons and ammunition in Ukraine’s pre-war inventory.
Wherever practicable, the United States will cooperate closely with Allies and key partners to mitigate the risk of potential weapons diversion due to Russia’s destabilizing actions. Early U.S. engagement with partners will focus on concrete steps that can be taken to reduce the risks and drivers of potential weapons diversion. This approach includes regional border security information-sharing and collaboration related to: sanctions and export control implementation; targeting and risk analysis; and observed tactics, techniques, and procedures along key border areas. Allies will be encouraged to adopt methods that include but are not limited to:
- Enabling Ukraine to properly document and account for the weapons the Allies deliver;
- Surging relevant training to key officials responsible for identifying and safeguarding advanced conventional weapons;
- Monitoring/investigating suspected weapons traffickers; and
- Building the capacity of law enforcement officials and analysts in Ukraine and neighboring states to process and share information regarding interdicted or captured weapons.
Near-term Actions (through FY 2023, as conditions allow):
- Bolster Accountability: Support Embassy Kyiv with personnel to assist the Government of Ukraine with handling and employment of U.S. security assistance; provide enhanced procedures and capabilities for Ukraine’s security forces to conduct and report accountability of defense articles; continue to scrutinize requests to transfer defense articles to Ukraine on a case-by-case basis to screen for parties that may pose an unacceptable risk of diversion; and report shipments of relevant items to existing international transparency mechanisms for reporting transfers of conventional arms.
- Strengthen Borders: Conduct aviation security training with airport security authorities in states bordering Ukraine; support border security information-sharing and coordination engagements with key Allies and partners and regional institutions; and expand open-source monitoring of reporting on weapons diversion for the region to help identify potential cases of diversion or misinformation as noted in local press and social media.
- Build Capacity: Conduct MANPADS and ATGM recognition training for relevant authorities in states neighboring Ukraine; in areas of Ukraine liberated from Russian control where security conditions are sufficiently permissive, ramp-up ERW clearance to render safe any expended, abandoned, or cached weapons and ammunition that may threaten the local populace; and provide explosive ordnance risk education to Ukrainian refugees currently in neighboring states to prepare them for risks they may face upon their return.
Medium-term Actions (through FY 2024, as conditions allow)
- Bolster Accountability: Deploy contracted demining units to augment Ukrainian national Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) actors in less permissive areas to render safe any expended, abandoned, or cached weapons and ammunition that may threaten the local populace; work with the Government of Ukraine to establish accountability for serviceable and unexpended defense articles; and increase EUM efforts in neighboring countries to strengthen supply chain security and prevent future diversion.
- Strengthen Borders: Conduct MANPADS and ATGM recognition and border security-related training for authorities across the region.
- Build Capacity: Train security forces in Ukraine and neighboring states to support counter proliferation activities, including land and maritime border security, counter-transnational organized crime operations, military intelligence operations, counter terrorism, and train-and-equip programs supporting non-proliferation efforts; enhance EOD capacity for Ukrainian security actors to destroy damaged weapons and unstable ammunition found on the battlefield, denying non-state actors those materials while protecting civilians; and train Allies and partners to clear ERW.
Long-term Actions (beyond FY 2024, as conditions allow):
- Bolster Accountability: As soon as Embassy Kyiv is fully operational and U.S. government personnel can inspect the equipment safely, continue end-use verification checks consistent with Section 40A of the Arms Export Control Act (22 U.S.C Sec. 2785) regarding providing reasonable assurance, to the extent practicable, with respect to use, transfer, and security of U.S. defense articles; and recommence Physical Security and Stockpile Management (PSSM) programming with Ukrainian security services as conditions allow, prioritizing properly securing more complex systems.
- Strengthen Borders: Work with partners to identify and address critical screening capacity gaps at regional ports-of-entry, and as appropriate assist with screening equipment and training; and consider expanding arrangements to screen passengers and cargo.
Build Capacity: Consider authorities and resources to sustain the counter-proliferation efforts of Ukraine’s military and other partners, subject to U.S. Government prioritization as well as any applicable congressional directives or earmarks.