White House may allow deployment of US military contractors in Ukraine – CNN
HIMARS (Illustrative photo: EPA)

The administration of US President Joe Biden is moving toward lifting the de facto ban on deploying American military contractors in Ukraine to service and repair weapons provided to Kyiv by Washington, CNN reported, citing four unnamed American officials.

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The article states that the adoption of this decision would mark another significant shift in Biden's administration policy toward Ukraine as the United States seeks ways to give Ukrainian forces an advantage over Russia.

CNN's sources said this issue is under consideration at the White House, but Biden has not yet given his approval.

"We have not made any decisions and any discussion of this is premature. The president is absolutely firm that he will not be sending US troops to Ukraine," one official told reporters.

Another official noted that if the decision is approved, it will likely come into effect in 2024. This would allow the Pentagon to contract American companies to work in Ukraine for the first time since Russia's full-scale invasion began. Officials expressed hope that this would speed up the maintenance and repair of weapons provided by Washington to Kyiv.

The article mentions that over the past two years, Biden has insisted that all Americans, especially military personnel, stay as far away from the front lines in Ukraine as possible. As a result, US-provided military equipment had to be transported to Poland, Romania, or other NATO countries for repairs, which takes time.

Currently, the United States can assist with maintenance only through video chat or secure phone calls. However, this assistance method has limitations, as American troops and contractors cannot directly work on the systems, CNN writes.

White House officials said that in recent months, these restrictions have started to be reviewed because US aid was blocked in Congress, and Russia made gains on the battlefield.

Allowing experienced American contractors funded by the US government to be in Ukraine would mean they could help repair damaged equipment much faster, the officials noted.

One of the systems likely to require regular maintenance is the F-16 fighters, which Ukraine is expected to receive in 2024. However, companies bidding for contracts will need to develop reliable risk mitigation plans to reduce threats to their employees, said one of the sources.

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