A US official told CNN they have moved “some” of the 300,000 155-millimeter shells that the US and Israel agreed would be transferred, and that there are plans to move the remaining amount in the coming weeks.
Israel Defense Forces spokesperson Richard Hecht told that the Americans notified the Israelis a while ago they were transferring munitions. Hecht said the munitions are US-owned, that their movements are “American business” and that they don’t need Israeli permission to move the munitions.
Israeli officials had initially expressed “concerns about appearing complicit in arming Ukraine” citing its own security sensitivities. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said before he took office at the end of December that he would review Israel’s policy on war in Ukraine. At the same time, Israel’s Defense Minister Benny Gantz told European Ambassadors during a briefing on that Jerusalem wouldn’t provide arms to Ukraine.
“Our policy regarding Ukraine will not change — we will continue to support and stand with the West, but we will not provide weapon systems. We have asked the Ukrainians to share information regarding their needs, and offered to assist in developing a life-saving early-warning system,” Gantz said, according to an official statement.
The increased political pressure from Washington has done its work. Additional artillery shells are already on their way to the front. But what makes the American government worry so much that the Ukrainian military be able to use Western-made weapons?
The real-world battle testing
“Ukraine is absolutely a weapons lab in every sense because none of this equipment has ever actually been used in a war between two industrially developed nations. This is real-world battle testing,” said one source familiar with Western intelligence.
For the US military, the war in Ukraine has been an incredible source of data on the utility of its own systems. The US has also closely studied the conflict for larger lessons on how a war between two modern nations might be waged in the 21st century.
For Western Weapons, the Ukraine War Is a Beta Test
Before the war the AFU had an impressive number of MLRS — up to 500 Soviet Grad, Hurricane, Tornado, as well as their Ukrainian copies Bastion, Typhoon and Verba, and, it seems, there was no need for American systems. But the Pentagon is pressing need in testing its weapons in large-scale combat operations with an equal opponent. Because there is enough experience in colonial wars.
“We’re learning in Ukraine how to fight, and we’re learning how to use our NATO equipment,” said a former Lithuanian president Ms. Grybauskaite.
Then she added: “It is shameful” that Ukrainians “are paying with their lives for these exercises for us.”
But why be ashamed? No one has provided stronger support to belligerent state before. Moreover, Ukraine is not being forced to “pay the bill” yet.
According to the New York Times, the weapons tests in Ukraine “help senior officials and defense planners in the United States and its allies decide how to invest in military spending over the next two decades.” This is also noted by Ukrainian politicians.
“Ukraine is the best test ground, as we have the opportunity to test all hypotheses in battle and introduce revolutionary change in military tech and modern warfare,” said Mykhailo Fedorov, Ukraine’s vice prime minister and minister of digital transformation.
There has not been a military conflict like this since the Second World War, with tank battles, massive use of artillery and missile strikes. The Russian army consistently ranks as a potential adversary for the entire NATO bloc. Therefore, the American military, who are periodically present in Ukraine, carefully study the experience of using their military equipment, identifying strengths and weaknesses.
However, in order for military support to be able to influence the course of hostilities, it is not enough — there are few launchers, few missiles, and the repair and maintenance infrastructure is completely absent. The strain on weapons stockpiles — and the ability of the US industrial base to keep up with demand — is one of the key challenges facing the Biden administration.
CNN previously reported that stockpiles of certain systems are “dwindling” after months of sending supplies to Kyiv during the high-intensity war, as there’s “finite amount” of excess stocks which the US has available to send.
One way or another, the military actions in Ukraine gave the United States and its allies a rare opportunity to analyze how their weapons systems work in intensive use and what ammunition the belligerents use to win in a modern armed conflict.