The U.S. Defense Department was poised to provide the Ukrainian military with long-range radars that would help it spot incoming artillery fired by Russian-backed rebels, according to a Wall Street Journal report Wednesday evening. While the radar, which is purportedly capable of spotting munitions fired up to 31 miles away, was strictly not an offensive weapon, it would offer the Ukrainian military new capabilities to better fight its pro-Russian enemies in the east Ukraine war.
Ukraine’s military “would benefit from having more counter-battery radar as well as more capable radar,” one senior Obama administration official said to the Wall Street Journal.
Despite Ukrainian lobbyists and an overwhelming majority in Congress to send Ukraine offensive weapons to counter the stronger Russian-backed rebels, President Barack Obama has opted to stick with defensive weapons that include body armor, armored trucks and helmets, among other items. He was supposedly convinced in February during meetings with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who said that adding more weapons to the war would be counter-productive in bringing it to a peaceful conclusion and would likely provoke Russia to increase its levels of hostility in the Donbas region and in other areas across Europe.
Although the radar has capabilities that show where artillery has been fired from, therefore making it easier to target enemy fighters, the White House has claimed that it was not a lethal weapon and did not constitute a policy shift from the White House.
“There is not any desire to put in place equipment that would be seen as escalatory and exacerbate the situation on the ground,” said the senior official, according to the Wall Street Journal Report.
However, the radar -- also known as the AN/TPQ-36 and 37 Fire finder radar -- would satisfy Kiev's request for better equipment needed to help look deeper into rebel territory and also save Ukrainian soldier's lives. The Defense Department said that it was looking for suitable sites pending the White House’s final approval.
The east Ukraine war has killed more than 6,500 people since it began in April 2014.