Report Says Biden Gives The Ok To Defense Contractors

In a significant development, President Joe Biden’s administration is reportedly working on a plan to allow US military contractors to deploy to Ukraine in a limited capacity. This would mark the first time American contractors would be sent to Ukraine, primarily for the maintenance and repair of US-supplied military systems.

According to CNN, four US officials familiar with the matter have indicated that the Pentagon is drafting a policy to issue private contracts for this purpose. However, it’s important to note that President Biden has not yet approved the plan.

A White House spokesperson emphasized that no decisions have been made and described any current discussions as premature. They reiterated that President Biden remains firm in his stance against sending US troops to Ukraine.

If the plan proceeds, it could be implemented later this year. This potential move would be a significant shift for the Biden administration, which has been cautious about actions that might escalate US involvement in the conflict or support Russian claims of a proxy war between the US, NATO, and Russia in Ukraine.

Currently, US maintenance support for equipment supplied to Ukraine is conducted remotely, with severely damaged equipment often needing to be sent to neighboring countries for repairs. This setup poses logistical challenges, particularly for critical artillery like Howitzers and the soon-to-be-deployed F-16s, which require complex maintenance. Having contractors on the ground in Ukraine could alleviate these issues, ensuring that vital equipment remains operational and effective on the front lines.

CNN’s sources emphasized that the plan would include stringent risk-mitigation measures, with the number of contractors likely ranging from a few dozen to around 200 at any given time. This is a far cry from the tens of thousands of private personnel contracted by the US during the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Interestingly, this discussion comes in the wake of similar considerations by European leaders. In February, French President Emmanuel Macron suggested that deploying Western troops to Ukraine should not be ruled out, sparking a cautious response from other European leaders. Recently, Macron has been moving forward with a plan to form a coalition of countries to send troops to Ukraine for support roles, including training Ukrainian forces and maintaining equipment.

This move by the Biden administration would not be the first instance of crossing previous red lines regarding support for Ukraine. Last summer, the US agreed to provide F-16s to Ukraine after initially deeming them off-limits. More recently, the US has permitted Ukraine to use its weaponry for limited strikes on Russian soil.