DoD could start training Ukrainians on Patriot on US soil: Politico
The United States might soon start training Ukrainian soldiers on US soil as the Pentagon wants to develop their knowledge on the Patriot system.
Ukrainian troops might soon start training in the United States as the Pentagon mulls training Ukrainians on the Patriot defense system at a military base on US soil, two officials familiar with the matter told Politico.
Washington has so far been training Ukrainians in European countries, providing Kiev's forces with expertise on various NATO weapons systems, including the hallmark HIMARS that the US has been providing to Kiev since the start of the Ukraine war. The training has been conducted in several Eastern European countries, as well as Germany and the United Kingdom.
The issue has not been confirmed yet, with no official decision taken by Washington yet. However, reports on Ukrainians training in the United States came after President Biden confirmed that Washington would be providing Ukraine with Patriot missile systems to Kiev.
The Patriot is a US-made sophisticated air defense missile system that shoots down any aircraft or missiles. This comes as Russia is showing an uptick in aerial attacks on Ukraine, especially using UAVs.
The system itself includes several support vehicles with control stations, radars, and generators, and it likely will not be deployed for months, as Washington cannot transfer it to Ukraine with Ukrainians not having sufficient knowledge on how to use it.
The Patriots have been on Ukraine's wishlist for months now, and Biden on Thursday moved forward, pledging to provide Kiev with the defense systems.
Biden said the US would continue sending aid to Kiev while increasing military support for the country, including in terms of air defense systems.
"We are going to continue to strengthen Ukraine's ability to defend itself, particularly air defense. That's why we're gonna be providing Ukraine with a Patriot missile battery and training Ukrainian forces to use it," Biden said.
Biden's words came in light of a visit by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to Washington, DC. The United States involved itself excessively in security arrangements to bring Zelensky to the US, according to the White House.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said earlier in the day that the United States will provide an additional $1.85 billion in military assistance for Ukraine, with the assistance consisting of a Patriot air defense system.
"$1.85 Billion in Additional US Military Assistance, including the First Transfer of Patriot Air Defense System," Blinken said in a press release.
Read next: US unable to track aid sent to Ukrainian soldiers: Politico
The Pentagon announced on Wednesday that one Patriot air defense system, additional ammunition for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS), and High-Speed Anti-Radiation Missiles (HARMs), among other military hardware, are included in the recently announced $1.85 billion US security assistance package for Ukraine.
According to the press release, the package also includes small guns, explosives, armored vehicles, mortar systems, and 500 precisely guided 155mm artillery rounds.
Currently, the Pentagon is discussing whether it should conduct the training - or at least part of it - in the United States or a third country as Washington has been doing so far, so likely a European country, but the training would be conducted on a US base.
One official argued in favor of the training of Ukrainians being conducted at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, a base already equipped with complex simulators and has a wide array of instructors, adding that training in Europe would be feasible but would exert a logistical strain on the United States.
Zelensky arrived at the White House on Wednesday for a meeting with Biden in light of the ongoing war in his country. He was greeted by Biden and First Lady Jill. He addressed the US Congress in a joint session as lawmakers mulled ratifying legislation that will include billions of dollars to be sent to Ukraine as "aid."
During the address, Zelensky urged US lawmakers to provide his forces with more weapons as well as impose additional anti-Russian sanctions.
"We have artillery, yes – thank you," Zelensky acknowledged in his address, and then questioned whether that is enough and went on to answer himself "Honestly, not really."
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi agreed with the Ukrainian President and tweeted that "the fight for Ukraine is the fight for democracy itself."
GOP Representatives Matt Gaetz, Lauren Boebert, Dianne Harshbarger, and Jim Jordan remained seated at times when the rest of the US Congress gave Zelensky a standing ovation. These GOP reps were criticized by others however, their positions were not new, as there has long been a sentiment of hatred for Zelensky in the US red camp.
Jen Psaki, former White House Press Secretary, called Zelensky's trip a "sales pitch" via her Twitter profile, noting decreasing support for Ukraine in the US.
While Donald Trump Jr. argued that the Ukrainian President is an "ungrateful international welfare queen."
Republicans vow audit to track Biden's $20 bln Ukraine aid
It is worth noting that earlier in November, the Biden administration is currently scurrying to track down the approximately $20 billion in military aid it sent to Ukraine, amid a warning by Republicans of impending audits after they take over the House in January.
Incoming House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has previously stated that Ukraine will not receive a "blank check". The purpose of the audit is meant to track how the funds are being delivered and exactly where - as prior suspicions point to many shipped arms ending up on the black market.
Controversial Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene, who announced the audit decision, promised to "hold our government accountable", as other colleagues such as Rep. Jason Crow echoed to the Washington Post: "The taxpayers deserve to know that investment is going where it's intended to go," adding: "In any war, there can be missteps and misallocation of supplies."
The lawmakers called out current monitoring efforts as inadequate since the Biden administration inspected just 10% of the 22,000 weapons transported to Ukraine between February and November 1, according to the Post.
However, US allies in Europe believe such an audit won't fully cut off funding, such as UK Parliament member Tobias Ellwood who said in October: "You’d be playing into Putin’s hands... If America pulls back, Putin could snatch victory from the jaws of defeat."