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U.S. Military Inspectors Now in Ukraine to Keep Track of Weapons and Equipment

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American military personnel are now in Ukraine to help keep track of the billions of dollars’ worth of weapons and equipment the United States has sent since the start of the Russian invasion, a senior U.S. defense official and senior U.S. military official said.

Led by Brig. Gen. Garrick Harmon, the U.S. defense attaché to Ukraine, the inspections have already begun with the help of the Office of Defense Cooperation personnel who have returned to the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine, the officials said.

The U.S. had conducted similar checks on aid prior to the war, but they stopped for months after Russia invaded on Feb. 24.

“There have been several of these inspections,” according to the senior defense official, who declined to give details on the locations of the on-site inspections. The Ukrainians have been “very transparent” and are supporting the inspections, the official added.

These inspectors in Ukraine appear to be some of the first members of the U.S. military to re-enter the Eastern European country since the start of the war, outside of military guards posted at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, the capital.

The Pentagon ordered the departure of U.S. troops in Ukraine on Feb. 14 — 10 days before the invasion — as the crisis escalated.

The inspections come after Russia and some Republicans in Congress have alleged that weapons and military equipment sent to Ukraine may have ended up on the black market. 

The U.S. has not seen any evidence of weapons being diverted to a black market or used for anything other than their original purpose, the defense official said, but the Pentagon and State Department remain aware of those risks and are taking efforts to prevent it.

“Thus far, intense internal demand for use on the battlefield by Ukrainian military and security forces within Ukraine is assessed to be impeding black-market proliferation of small arms and guided infantry weapons,” the State Department document states.

There is some concern about Russia’s ability to capture U.S. weapon systems, however. The administration said in its plan that pro-Russian forces have been “the main vector of diversion so far and could result in onward transfer” of Ukrainian weapons and “donated materials.”

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