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Don't Ask, Don't Tell in Ukraine

America is sending more weapons to Ukraine, but is Ukraine using it to attack targets in Russian territory?

US President Biden Visits Kyiv
(Photo by Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via Getty Images)

As June begins, Russia claims it has repelled further efforts by Ukrainian-linked fighters to cross Russia’s border and enter the Belgorod region. The Russian Volunteer Corps (RVC), a paramilitary group of ethnic Russians fighting for the Ukrainians, however, claims they are still fighting in Belgorod.

Kiev still denies any direct involvement in the effort to capture Russian territory, though during the RVC’s initial sally into Belgorod when videos posted to social media supposedly from the attack led some to conclude that American-made armored vehicles accompanied the troops. Meanwhile, Ukraine’s Main Directorate of Intelligence (HUR) seemed to contradict President Volodymyr Zelensky’s claims when it claimed that it had coordinated with the troops entering Belgorod.


American military aid to Ukraine is supposed to be largely contingent on Ukraine not using American equipment to directly attack Russian territory. But the Biden administration and the uniparty writ large seem uninterested in investigating and enforcing such provisions.

For Ukraine’s backers, it’s don’t ask, don’t tell.

Which is why the Pentagon has announced yet another $300 million in military aid for Ukraine, which includes ammunition for missile defense systems, such as Patriot missiles and AIM-7 missiles. Other artillery provided by the latest round of aid from the Pentagon includes Stingers, anti-tank weapons, and tank rounds. The package also includes other military equipment and “munitions for Unmanned Aerial Systems.” 

Drones have become an important part of Ukraine’s efforts to limit Russia’s capacity to continue the invasion. Earlier this week, two Ukrainian drones were used to strike Russian oil refineries. In the past, Ukraine has used drones to strike targets inside Russia’s borders, such as airfields, other military installations, and vital industrial centers. What remains unknown in these attacks, however, is if the munitions used for such drone attacks came from the United States, another Western nation, or from Ukraine’s own arsenal.

"Don’t ask, don’t tell" is working in the other direction, albeit less so. Ukrainians don’t know if the military aid coming in will be ready or rubbish—and they dare not ask, given U.S. aid is propping up not only their military but the entire Ukrainian government.


A recent report from the Defense Department's inspector general claims that some of the military equipment previously sent to Ukraine was in such disrepair that Ukrainian forces could have been killed or injured if they had used it. The report claims that the Army’s 401st Army Field Support Battalion and the military contractor Amentum Services had maintained their six M777 howitzers stored in Kuwait so poorly that four of the cannons’ breechblocks could not lock, which could have led to misfires that “would have killed somebody,” one technician said in the report. All six had recycled old hydraulic fluid that could have caused other malfunctions.

What’s more, though the 401st previously claimed 28 of their 29 M1167 Humvees were battle-field operational, when the 401st were ordered to send the vehicles to Ukraine, further inspection found 26 were inoperable. The 401st supposedly fixed the Humvees, only for 25 of them to have their tires replaced upon arrival in Europe due to dry rot.

Much has been said about how America’s support for Ukraine is depleting vital stockpiles of U.S. weaponry. Some weapons, vehicles, and systems provided to the Ukrainians are newer, some older—hidden away in a DOD warehouse somewhere. In some respects, it doesn’t really matter if these weapons are older or newer: America expects them to be ready to use in the field of battle if necessary, and they’re clearly not. In some respects, it does: Do we expect to win the next war—likely against China—by supplying our troops with military equipment from an era of humiliation for the U.S. military? If we can’t win this one, what is there to make one believe we’ll win the big one?

America has decided that it will support Ukraine for, in Biden’s words, “as long as it takes.” It’s a dumb, prideful thing to say and an even dumber thing to do. But if we’re going to do dumb things, shouldn’t we at least do them well? Pride comes before the fall.


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