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Sat. May 25th, 2024

The United States has forwarded small arms and ammunition to Ukraine, originating from a seizure of materials en route from Iranian forces to Yemen-based rebels backed by Tehran. The US military, in a statement released on Tuesday, confirmed the transfer, highlighting its significance amid Ukraine’s pressing ammunition shortages and political challenges within the US Congress regarding aid allocation.

According to the US Central Command (CENTCOM), the transfer occurred last week, providing the Ukrainian armed forces with over 5,000 AK-47s, machine guns, sniper rifles, RPG-7s, and more than 500,000 rounds of 7.62mm ammunition. This infusion of weaponry, CENTCOM asserted, aims to bolster Ukraine’s defense capabilities against the ongoing conflict with Russian forces, offering enough material to outfit a brigade effectively.

The arms and ammunition in question were intercepted from four “stateless vessels” between May 2021 and February 2023, during attempted transfers from Iran’s Revolutionary Guards to Yemen’s Huthi rebels. Notably, the US government acquired ownership of these confiscated munitions on December 1, 2023, through the Department of Justice’s civil forfeiture claims.

Amidst heightened tensions in the region, exemplified by Huthi attacks on vessels in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden since November 2023, the United States reaffirmed its commitment to curtailing Iran’s support for armed groups, citing it as a significant threat to international and regional security.

However, despite these efforts, critical aid deliveries, particularly pertaining to artillery and air defense munitions, have encountered delays in the US Congress, primarily due to opposition from Republican lawmakers. This obstruction has impeded the passage of a $60 billion support package, leaving Kyiv’s troops to ration ammunition amidst uncertainty over future deliveries.

To mitigate the impact of the congressional impasse, the United States recently announced a $300 million assistance package for Ukraine on March 12. This package, which included anti-aircraft and anti-tank weapons, as well as artillery shells, was funded by reallocating resources within the Pentagon’s budget, allowing for continued support despite legislative hurdles.

Washington remains a key advocate for Ukraine on the international stage, rallying support from numerous countries and serving as Kyiv’s largest donor of security aid since the 2022 invasion by Russia. Despite challenges, US officials continue to advocate for robust assistance measures to bolster Ukraine’s defense capabilities in the face of ongoing conflict.

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