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US edging a step closer to WW3 over combat drone deliveries

US, NATO, Obama, US intelligence

Opinion

US edging a step closer to WW3 over combat drone deliveries

Russia’s massive advantage, both qualitative and quantitative, in developing and deploying hypersonic weapons doesn’t seem to deter the US. Writes Drago Bosnic

The United States’ and NATO’s so-called “lethal aid” to the post-Maidan regime in Kiev is in no way breaking news. It has been going on for nearly a decade now and has directly contributed to the mass murder of around 15,000 people in Donbass. In addition to weapons, the Armed Forces of Ukraine have received top-level training by the US, UK and other NATO militaries. In recent months, these arms deliveries have skyrocketed to unprecedented levels. In addition to thousands, even tens of thousands of antitank guided missiles (ATGMs) and man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS), the “Javelin” and “Stinger” missiles being the most prominent examples, Ukraine also received thousands of drones and loitering munitions.

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Apart from weapons, the North Atlantic Alliance has also mobilized its vast ISR (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) capabilities and is relaying battlefield information to the Kiev regime. It remains to be seen how effective this is, given the collapse of Kiev’s joint military command and control structure, but it definitely shows the West’s commitment to their favorite regime. In other words, the US has been involved in every conceivable way, except for a direct shooting war with Russia. However, even that may change in the coming days and weeks.

The Kiev regime recently passed a law officially allowing foreign citizens to serve in its intelligence and higher echelons of military hierarchy. Of course, this doesn’t seem like news flash to most people, especially given that US intelligence has been heavily involved in Ukraine for decades. However, coupled with the recent Kiev’s request for the MQ-9 “Reaper” unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAV), this may be much bigger news than what the mainstream media is reporting. These US MQ-9 “Reaper” drones are infamous for sowing death and destruction across the world, with former US President Obama authorizing at least 6,000 documented drone strikes around the world (the actual number may be orders of magnitude greater), which would make it approximately 2 drone strikes per day during Obama’s 8 years of presidency.

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And this is when we get to the connection between Kiev’s new law and the drones. The transfer of the MQ-9 “Reaper” is useless without the necessary training for the drone operators. This alone takes over two months, which is the time the Kiev regime simply doesn’t have. In order to make any possible difference, these drones would need to be used as soon as humanly possible. So, which other options does this leave for the regime? Well, it’s rather simple, but also very dangerous. Here’s why.

With the transfer of US combat drones, we may see American operators directly involved in their usage in combat. And the dangerous part is that these operators don’t even need to be stationed in Ukraine. The “Reaper” drones can be controlled via satellite links. The operator may be located somewhere in Germany, Italy or even the US mainland. And the legally gray area comes with the possible transfer of jurisdiction over these operators to the official Ukrainian military command. Strictly speaking, even though this would still mean that the US and NATO wouldn’t be directly involved, in case that the Kremlin finds about it (which it most certainly would), they would hardly see it as non-involvement. And if Moscow is to see it that way, we are talking about what would basically be direct US intervention. And we all know what kind of danger that poses to the world.

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The obvious question arises – what should Russia do in that case? Decades of diplomatic efforts by the Kremlin have fallen on deaf ears. Why would the ever increasingly belligerent West listen to reason now, after doing everything in their power to push Ukraine into this bloodbath and after investing trillions to encircle Russia and weaken its position in Europe and the post-Soviet near abroad? Russia’s massive advantage, both qualitative and quantitative, in developing and deploying hypersonic weapons doesn’t seem to deter the US. Not even the recent combat usage of the “Kinzhal”, a highly maneuverable air-launched hypersonic weapon, in service with the Russian Aerospace Forces since 2017, doesn’t seem to deter the US. One way or the other, Russia will simply not allow the US to kill Russian soldiers with impunity. Is Washington DC so out of touch with reality, that they’re ready to raise the stakes so high?

And if anyone is to think this is plain paranoia and that it is based on circumstantial evidence, Russia’s reaction in recent days most certainly isn’t. The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has recently “strongly advised” against sending additional US weapons to Ukraine. While Russia has protested NATO arming of the Kiev regime for years, this is the first time it has issued a stark warning to the United States. Now, Russia may not need to strike targets in the US mainland, but since these combat drones need to fly from somewhere, this may well be NATO airports in Germany, Italy, Poland, Romania or any other NATO member state, all of which are in the striking distance of Russian ballistic, cruise or hypersonic missiles. The question remains, what’s next?

Drago Bosnic, independent geopolitical and military analyst.

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