U.S. President Barack Obama authorized a deal to send $20 million of sophisticated radar equipment to Ukraine, Business Insider reported Wednesday. The Pentagon had been discussing the radar for months, but it wasn't until a high-profile meeting between Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin that Obama decided to finalize the deal.
After Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula in March 2014, Ukraine has been contending with pro-Russian separatists in the eastern regions of Donbass and Luhansk, allegedly backed by the Kremlin. The conflict in Ukraine has caused divisions among Western powers, with the United States and many European nations instituting sanctions on Russia.
The equipment to be provided by the U.S. will be Q36 radar systems that can target the point of origin of missiles from between 18-24 kilometers (11-15 miles) away. The equipment is so precise that it can originate the location of a missile or artillery weapon after a single shot.
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Nearly 75 percent of the fatalities experienced on the Ukrainian side, according Ukraine's Ministry of Defense, have been because of artillery or missile attacks, and the new radar equipment could be a game changer for the Ukrainian military. The Ukrainian military was attacked by pro-Russian separatists in the Donbass region Wednesday, the Kyiv Post reported. No fatalities have been reported from Wednesday's attack.
The U.S. decision to send the radar could have very significant consequences for the outcome of the conflict in Ukraine, some experts said. "Washington's willingness to move forward with radars sends a clear signal that the U.S. may consider sending lethal weapons should the Minsk II process fail," said Adrian Karatnycky, an analyst for the Atlantic Council, a defense and security think tank. "In the long term, the West must help Ukraine's arms industry modernize, which can be modeled on the successful efforts undertaken in Poland and other Central European states," Karatnycky said.