Egle E. Murauskaite, Senior Faculty Specialist, ICONS Project
The focus and contribution of this study is tracing the key U.S. arms transfers through different phases of the war in Ukraine and comparing their anticipated and perceived impact. While touching briefly on U.S. assistance to Ukraine after Russia's 2014 incursion into Crimea, its primary focus is on trends in assistance since Russia launched a conventional war against Ukraine in February 2022.
- U.S. deliveries of HIMARS were decisive for summer offensives (especially the training), despite their reduced range.
- Advanced weaponry was a popular signal, but older systems proved just as valuable, while the diversity of NATO-supplied systems is increasingly problematic.
- WWII weaponry is losing significance, while modern technology (ranging from drones to long range artillery) is overcoming Russia's historical manpower advantage.
- Maintenance and spare parts remain the biggest challenge, both logistically (outside Ukraine) and training Ukrainians to do it.
- Gradual vertical U.S. escalation by supplying more and more sophisticated weaponry has been successful so far in avoiding a major Russian lashing out (e.g., the feared nuclear response and/or direct attacks against NATO member states).
- No arms diversions have been detected yet, but concerns are mounting about the post-/frozen conflict spread of weapons (especially small arms).
- U.S. public support for providing weapons to Ukraine is gradually falling and is increasingly conditional on parallel diplomatic efforts.
- Most experts consider training and intelligence to be more significant than weapons' deliveries — these aspects of U.S. military assistance are discussed in two forthcoming reports for this project.