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“Risks worth taking”: Despite concerns about proliferation, the US rushes MANPADS to Ukraine

Washington, March 11 (Reuters)-US and NATO are at a loss for weapons including highly sensitive items such as shoulder-launched missiles called Man-Portable Air-Defense Systems (MANPADS) that can shoot down aircraft. Transporting to Ukraine at no speed.

Western weapons deliveries, another expected to arrive within hours, allow Ukrainians to fight Russian troops invading much more effectively and violently than U.S. intelligence expected. Was essential to do.

However, transferring these amounts of weapons to Europe’s largest conflict since World War II carries the risk that some may fall into the wrong hands-possibly thought by the West.

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“Frankly, we believe that Ukrainians are very skillful and very creative with their free tools, so it’s worth the risk,” said the United States. Defense officials were asked about the danger on Friday.

Portable missiles (a type of MANPAD), such as the Stinger missile, help win the war, but in the past they were lost, sold, or rolled up in the arsenal of radical groups.

For example, in the conflicts of the 1980s and 1990s, hundreds of US-supplied stinger were considered key to helping Mujahideen rebels expel Soviet troops from Afghanistan.

However, the United States then spent years trying to retrieve unused MANPADS from that country and other conflict zones around the world.

In a 2019 Pentagon-funded study, RAND Corp. think tanks estimate that more than 60 civilian aircraft have been attacked by MANPADS since the 1970s, killing more than 1,000 civilians. As of 2019, 57 non-state armed groups have been identified. Possessed or suspected of possessing MANPADS.

According to RAND Corp., Russia is “ the largest exporter of MANPADS”, with more than 10,000 systems sold to countries such as Iraq, Venezuela, Kazakhstan, Qatar and Libya between 2010 and 2018. ..

The United States and NATO have not disclosed the number of MANPADS transferred to Ukraine since the invasion began. This is currently the third week.

So far, Russia has not targeted the Western weapons convoy to Ukraine, and U.S. defense officials have never seen the U.S. receive Western-supplied inventory in Russia’s hands. Stated.

But that can change.

At the Russian Security Council Friday meeting, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu talked about Western-made Javelin anti-tank weapons and the possibility of future seizure of Stinger. ..

Russian President Vladimir Putin publicly supported this idea.

“When it comes to delivering weapons, especially Western-made weapons in the hands of the Russian army, of course, we support the possibility of giving them to the military units of the People’s Republic of Lugansk and Donetsk,” Putin said.

“Do this,” Putin told Shoigu.

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Report by Phil Stewart and Idrees Ali, edited by Mary Milliken and Daniel Wallis

Our Criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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