Pentagon Wants to Equip Ukraine With Better Radar, Awaiting White House Approval

Vladimir Putin
Vladimir Putin / AP

Pentagon officials are preparing to equip Ukraine with a more powerful, longer-range radar to help the country fight back against Russian-backed separatists, indicating the Defense Department’s desire to provide more military support to Ukraine.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the Pentagon’s proposal, which is awaiting approval from the Obama White House, would provide Ukraine with counter-battery radar that would help the country determine from where an incoming projectile was fired in order to more precisely retaliate against separatists.

U.S. officials insist that such radar would not count as deadly weaponry, which the White House has said it will not send to Ukraine.

While one senior Obama administration official explained that the Ukrainian military "would benefit from having more counter-battery radar as well as more capable radar," the White House source insisted that there remains no urgency to equip Ukraine with deadly weapons.

"There is not any desire to put in place equipment that would be seen as escalatory and exacerbate the situation on the ground," the official said.

According to Ukrainian military officials, they had as of Wednesday endured about 140 attacks involving tank, mortar and artillery fire from separatists in the last two days.

The Pentagon’s desire to give better radar to Ukraine comes as multiple top military officials, including Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, have expressed a desire to arm Ukraine.

Moreover, U.S. Air Force Gen. Paul Selva and Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford, who have been tapped by Obama to serve as vice chairman and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, respectively, have both named Vladimir Putin’s Russia the gravest "existential threat" to the United States. Both have also expressed support for arming Ukraine. 

Nevertheless, the Obama administration still wants to abide by the peace deal achieved in February during which Russia and Ukraine agreed to a ceasefire.

Another top White House official said the Obama administration sees "no military resolution" to the conflict and will continue to focus on a diplomatic fix.

Nearly 1,000 combatants and civilians have been killed since a recent ceasefire was brokered, according to data from the United Nations.