Republican criticism of Biden intensifies as midterm elections draw closer. Writes Ahmed Adel
Washington announced plans to tighten arms control in Ukraine to keep US-made weapons out of the black market and to stop Russia from using them for other purposes. However, this “US Plan to Counter Illicit Diversion of Certain Advanced Conventional Weapons in Eastern Europe” fact sheet is very evidently a tool of distraction to boost the Democrats’ chances in the upcoming midterm congressional elections.
According to the Department of State fact sheet, which was published on October 27, demand for use of weapons during the Russia-Ukraine war seems to be “impeding black-market proliferation of small arms and guided infantry weapons”. It also stated that the ability of pro-Russian forces to capture some Ukrainian weapons “has been the main vector of diversion so far and could result in onward transfers.”
The State Department added that war in Ukraine can “provide opportunities for weapons to fall into private hands via theft or illicit sales, sometimes creating black markets for arms that endure for decades.” It is a paradoxical situation when the US is concerned that its weapons, which were intended for Ukraine to fight against Russia, can be bought on the darknet instead. Effectively, such weapons have the potential to also end up in terrorist hands, as one example.
In-depth investigative journalism has unveiled that US weapons shipped to Ukraine can now be found at low prices in many countries around the world, something that is a blow to the reputation and image of the Biden administration. More importantly, this information will certainly be used by the Republicans in the lead up to the mid-term legislative elections to take votes away from the Democrats.
That is why now, almost on the eve of the US electoral process, this particular Republican criticism of Biden’s foreign policy is being countered through the introduction of the “U.S. Plan to Counter Illicit Diversion of Certain Advanced Conventional Weapons in Eastern Europe.” The State Department published this plan as a distraction to show the Biden administration is dealing with the arms situation in Ukraine.
Historically, weapons that the West supplied to foreign battlefields later ended up in different countries. The West knew this would also be the case in Ukraine, but for propaganda reasons paid almost no attention and deliberately ignored it. However, after more Republicans began to resent this policy in the run-up to the election, the State Department has now decided that it is making an effort to curb the unaccounted supply of weapons.
None of this can effectively combat the black markets in weapons though. The reality is that even if Washington were effective on their end of the plan, the total corruption in Ukraine would end all legitimate efforts. This makes it all the more frustrating for Washington as there is no guarantee that US weapons which arrived in other countries from Ukraine will not be used against the US and its allies in the future. This very scenario has happened all across the Middle East in the last two decades.
Washington has supplied the Ukrainian military with helicopters, anti-aircraft systems, guns, grenade launchers, military vehicles and High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, known as HIMARS. It is recalled that in September, Congress approved the spending of $1.5 billion to replenish the US weapons stockpile after it had been sent to Ukraine.
Even more recently, the White House said in October that the US would send Ukraine a new $725 million worth of weapons, including additional HIMARS. This came about after Anton Gerashchenko, an adviser to Ukraine’s Interior Ministry, said that the Ukrainian military needed 32 HIMARS rocket launchers to combat Russia.
“To continue the counteroffensive, preventing escalation from the Russian side and Ukrainian victory we need three times as much 155 mm artillery, three times as many HIMARS and the maximum amount of ammunition for them,” he said.
This resupply of Ukraine comes as a new ABC News/Ipsos poll found that more Americans trust the Republican Party over the Democratic Party when it comes to handling the economy, crime, inflation, and gas prices. The popularity of the Democratic Party and President Joe Biden is rapidly declining, and it is for this reason that the creation of the “U.S. Plan to Counter Illicit Diversion of Certain Advanced Conventional Weapons in Eastern Europe” is nothing more than an attempt to eradicate one of the many criticisms the Republicans can weaponize against the ruling party. It is doubtful it can be successful though, especially as more Republicans criticize the entire US involvement in the war in Ukraine.