It is outrageous that Ukraine received helicopters that Russia sold to the US as aid for Afghanistan, the ambassador said.
The US is breaching its international obligations and its own policies with its latest military aid package to Ukraine, Russian Ambassador to the US, Anatoly Antonov said on Wednesday. Washington did not get Russia permission before diverting four Mi-17 helicopters from the original destination of Afghanistan to Ukraine, he pointed out.
The United States Department of Defense announced last week that the aircraft was going to be handed over to Ukraine. The four Mi-17 helicopters purchased by the US for the Afghan national army were presumably the aircraft purchased by the US before the US-backed government in Kabul fell to Taliban forces in August last year. Ukraine was supposed to send the aircraft to Afghanistan.
The transfer of the helicopters was in violation of the end user certificate, which required written consent from Russia, the ambassador said. He called it a blatant violation of American obligations as the buyer and claimed that Washington stonewalled Russia's demands for an explanation.
Antonov said Russia had concerns over other weapons in the package. He pointed out that the supply of shoulder-fired anti-aircraft Stinger missiles goes against international agreements on the mitigation of risks posed by the diversion of such weapons into the hands of malign actors. He said there was a UN General Assembly resolution on the issue in 2007 and other documents.
Antonov noted that the US and other countries have a long-standing agreement on informing each other of all sales of such weapons to foreign nations, because of the threat of proliferation of portable anti-aircraft missiles to third parties.
The decision to provide them to Kiev was deemed irresponsible because of the aid package that undermined Washington's position as a respectable arms supplier, according to Antonov, a warning issued by the embassy on social media.
Washington is attempting to help Kiev defend itself against Russia, claiming that it is sending more heavy weapons to Ukraine. American officials said that they trusted Ukrainian assurances that the weapons would not be misused, including to attack targets in Russia.
In earlier statements Kiev defended its right to attack Crimea, a region that Russia considers part of its sovereign territory, with US-provided arms. In 2014, Ukraine and the US rejected the reabsorption of the peninsula after people there voted to break away from Kiev in a referendum.
Russia attacked the neighboring state in late February, after Ukraine failed to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The German and French-brokered protocols were designed to give the breakaway regions special status within the Ukrainian state.
The Kremlin has demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists that the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied that it was planning to take the two republics by force.