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US sends seized Iranian weapons and ammo to Ukraine

US sends seized Iranian weapons and ammo to Ukraine

US sends seized Iranian weapons and ammo to Ukraine

US sends seized Iranian weapons and ammo to Ukraine

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  • The transfer occurred last week as Ukraine faces significant ammunition shortages.
  • The arms and ammunition were obtained from four “stateless vessels” between May 2021 and February 2023.
  • The transfer does not address Kyiv’s need for key items such as artillery and air defense munitions.
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On Tuesday, the US military announced that it had given Ukraine small arms and ammunition seized while being sent from Iranian forces to the Tehran-backed Houthis in Yemen. Last week, the transfer occurred as Ukraine grapples with significant shortages of ammunition, while US Republican lawmakers block new aid. However, the transfer does not address Kyiv’s need for key items such as artillery and air defense munitions.

“The US government transferred over 5,000 AK-47s, machine guns, sniper rifles, RPG-7s and over 500,000 rounds of 7.62mm ammunition to the Ukrainian armed forces” on Thursday, the US Central Command (CENTCOM) said on social media.

“These weapons will help Ukraine defend against Russia’s invasion” and are enough material to equip a brigade, it said.

Between May 2021 and February 2023, the US Central Command (CENTCOM) seized the arms and ammunition from four “stateless vessels” as the supplies were being transferred from Iran’s Revolutionary Guards to Yemen’s Houthi militia.

“The government obtained ownership of these munitions on December 1, 2023, through the Department of Justice’s civil forfeiture claims,” it said.

Since November 2023, the Houthis have been targeting vessels in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden in attacks they claim are in solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza — posing a significant international security challenge that threatens a major shipping lane.

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“Iran’s support for armed groups threatens international and regional security, our forces, diplomatic personnel, and citizens in the region, as well as those of our partners. We will continue to do whatever we can to shed light on and stop Iran’s destabilizing activities,” CENTCOM said.

In early October, Washington made a similar transfer to Ukraine, providing 1.1 million rounds of 7.62mm ammunition seized from Iranian forces en route to Yemen. However, Republican lawmakers in the US Congress have stalled a $60 billion support package since last year, delaying the delivery of crucial artillery and air defense munitions to Ukraine. As a result, Kyiv’s troops have had to ration ammunition amid uncertainty over the timing of the next deliveries.

On March 12, the United States announced a $300 million assistance package for Kyiv, marking the first such aid since December. The package included anti-aircraft and anti-tank weapons, as well as artillery shells. However, the US government warned at the time that the aid would run out after a few weeks. The funding for this package was sourced from money saved by the Pentagon on other purchases, enabling the provision of aid despite the congressional impasse.

US officials have spearheaded the push for international support for Ukraine, swiftly forming a coalition to back Kyiv after Russia invaded in 2022 and coordinating aid from dozens of countries. Since the invasion, Washington has been by far Kyiv’s biggest donor of security aid, committing tens of billions of dollars to aid Ukraine.

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