October 27, 2023

US Reroutes Aid


US Reroutes Aid
American and Israeli flags adorn a street corner. Unsplash.

The English-language Moscow Times reported last Friday that “tens of thousands” of 155mm artillery shells earmarked for the Ukrainian military will be sent to Israel “in the coming weeks” to refill depleted US stocks in Israel, citing statements gathered by US-based news website Axios.

The shells were part of emergency stockpiles kept by the US in Israel long-term. Only US military personnel have access to these stockpiles, but “Israel can use the ammunition in a war scenario in short order” with US approval, according to Axios.

Axios reported in January that, since “sometime in late 2022,” shells from these stockpiles were being sent to Ukraine to help with the ongoing war with Russia. At the time, the Israeli military told the government that “there was no immediate scenario in which Israel would need an emergency supply of shells." This late 2022 / early 2023 transfer of shells was performed by the US. The Moscow Times noted, "Israel itself has refused to deliver weapons to Ukraine since the start of Russia's invasion in order to avoid angering the Kremlin."

According to Axios, "US officials have suggested that diverting these shells from Ukraine to Israel would have no immediate impact on Ukraine's ability to fight against Russian troops." Pentagon spokesman Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder said, "We are confident we can support both Ukraine and Israel in terms of their defensive needs."

The diversion of shells from Ukraine to Israel followed a series of requests by the Israeli government for US aid following an IDF assessment after Hamas’s October 7 attack. The Moscow Times noted that Israel has been launching an increasing number of attacks on the Gaza Strip since October 7, and that over 5,000 Israelis and Palestinians, mostly civilians, have died in the conflict in the two weeks since. At the same time, Ukraine’s military activity is also heightened, with counteroffensives ongoing since June against Russian-occupied southern regions.

President Joe Biden recently delivered a request to Congress for a total of $105 billion of international aid funding, including large sums for military support of both Israel and Ukraine. Of the total sum, $61.4 billion would be destined to Ukraine "for military and economic assistance," $14.3 billion would go to Israel "to bolster its air and missile defenses," and over $9 billion is earmarked "for humanitarian assistance in Israel, Gaza, and Ukraine”, according to NYT.

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