Weapons Sent to Ukraine Could Be Used by Russia to Fake Attacks, U.S. Fears

The State Department announced on Thursday that U.S. officials are taking steps to ensure that weapons that have been provided to Ukraine aren't diverted to other actors.

In a newly published fact sheet, the department said that demand for use of weapons during the Russia-Ukraine war seems to be "impeding black-market proliferation of small arms and guided infantry weapons" from Ukraine.

It also stated that pro-Russian forces' ability to capture some Ukrainian weapons "has been the main vector of diversion so far and could result in onward transfers."

"Russia probably will also use these weapons to develop countermeasures, propaganda, or to conduct false-flag operations," the State Department wrote.

Weapons for Ukraine Could Diverted to Russia
Above, a member of the British armed forces teaches a group of Ukrainian volunteers how to use a FGM-148 Javelin surface-to-air missile on October 11 in southern England. The State Department announced Thursday that U.S. officials are taking steps to ensure that weapons that have been provided to Ukraine aren't diverted to other actors. Leon Neal

The comments from the State Department come after the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) said in a report last week that Russian forces are planning to launch a "false-flag" attack on the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant, which is about 50 miles east of the city of Kherson.

The State Department added that war can "provide opportunities for weapons to fall into private hands via theft or illicit sales, sometimes creating black markets for arms that endure for decades."

In response to such a threat, the department said the U.S. is helping Ukraine's ability "to account for and safeguard their arms and ammunition during transfer, in storage, and when deployed." It added that officials will help boost the capacity of border, military and law enforcement officials, border officials in Ukraine and other neighboring Eastern European nations "to deter, detect, and interdict illicit trafficking of certain advanced conventional weapons."

"Wherever practicable, the United States will cooperate closely with Allies and key partners to mitigate the risk of potential weapons diversion due to Russia's destabilizing actions. Early U.S. engagement with partners will focus on concrete steps that can be taken to reduce the risks and drivers of potential weapons diversion," the State Department wrote.

Since the beginning of Russia's invasion of Ukraine in late February, the U.S. has provided Ukraine with helicopters, anti-aircraft systems, guns, grenade launchers and military vehicles.

Last month, Congress approved a spending bill that included $1.5 billion to replenish the U.S. weapons stockpile after it had been used to aid the Ukrainian military. The U.S. has also provided Ukraine with High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, known as HIMARS, which have been credited with some of the country's recent successes on the battlefield.

In another round of military assistance announced this month, the White House said the U.S. would send Ukraine a new $725 million worth of weapons including additional HIMARS.

Anton Gerashchenko, an adviser to the Ukrainian Interior Ministry, told Newsweek earlier this month that his country needed an additional 32 HIMARS rocket launchers to combat the Russians.

"To continue the counteroffensive, preventing escalation from the Russian side and Ukrainian victory we need three times as much 155 mm artillery, three times as many HIMARS and the maximum amount of ammunition for them," he said.