Pentagon Confirms US Troops Now On The Ground In Ukraine

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According to the Pentagon on Tuesday, the US is dispatching troops to Ukraine to inspect American military aid delivery facilities and prevent the sale of deadly weapons on the illicit market.

This is the first time US personnel have ventured outside the embassy’s walls, which has been guarded by Marines since American diplomats returned in May after fleeing the city ahead of Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion.

According to a Pentagon spokesman Air Force Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder, the Defense and State Departments utilize the checks to track US-provided weapons and make sure the more than $18 billion in military help Washington has promised Ukraine does not end up in the wrong hands.

“We have no indication that there has been any type of illicit spread of the capabilities that we provided to the Ukrainians that are being used effectively on the battlefield,” Ryder said, adding that the service members are being kept “far away from any type of frontline action.”

Earlier this week, the State Department unveiled its plan to “limit potential illicit diversion of weapons by Russia’s forces, Russia’s proxies, and non-state actors.”

So far, “intense internal demand” has prevented US-donated weapons from appearing on the European underground. Instead, “[p]ro-Russian forces’ capture of Ukrainian weapons – including donated materiel” has been the main concern, according to the State Department.

According to the State Department proposal, the Biden administration is especially concerned about accounting for “sensitive and advanced conventional weapons including Man-portable Air Defense Systems and anti-tank/all-purpose tactical guided missiles.”

“The United States will continue to assist the government of Ukraine with accounting for and securing weapons, as security conditions permit,” the State Department said.

The White House has repeatedly pledged there will be no combat troops on the ground in Ukraine, an assertion Ryder repeated Tuesday.

“We’ve been very clear there are no combat forces in Ukraine, no US forces conducting combat operations in Ukraine,” he said. “These are personnel that are assigned to conduct security cooperation and assistance as part of the defense attaché office.”

The inspections came to light days after House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) issued a warning that, should the GOP take control of Congress following the Nov. 8 midterm elections, it would not “give Ukraine a blank check.”

“I think people are gonna be sitting in a recession and they’re not going to write a blank check to Ukraine,” McCarthy told Punchbowl News on Oct. 18.

Three days later, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) issued a statement calling on the Biden administration to be “quick and more proactive to get Ukraine the aid they need,” such as “additional air defenses” and “long-range fires.”

“It is in America’s core national security interest to make it clear that revisionist states such as Russia or China cannot simply gobble up smaller neighbors,” he said in the Oct. 21 statement. “The Biden Administration and our allies need to do more to supply the tools Ukraine needs to thwart Russian aggression.”

In a sharp break from McCarthy, McConnell said that should Republicans earn a majority in the Senate following the upcoming midterms, the body “will focus its oversight on ensuring timely delivery of needed weapons and greater allied assistance to Ukraine.”

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