Biden admin moves to allow deployment of US military contractors in Ukraine: report

The officials said the hope is that it the move would speed maintenance and repairs of US weapons systems being used by the Ukrainian military.

Hannah Nightingale Washington DC

The Biden administration is reportedly moving toward allowing American military contractors to be deployed to Ukraine to aid the country in maintaining and repairing weapons systems provided by the US.

The policy is still being worked on, four US officials familiar with the matter told CNN, and has not been signed off on by Biden.

One administration official told the outlet, "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."

Officials said that the change would likely be implemented this year after its approval and would let the Pentagon give contracts to American companies so they can work inside Ukraine. This marks the first time this would occur since Russia invaded the Eastern European nation in 2022. 

The officials said the hope is that it the move would speed maintenance and repairs of US weapons systems being used by the Ukrainian military. This equipment currently has to be transported to NATO countries like Poland or Romania to be repaired. One such system that will require regular repairs and maintenance is the F-16 fighter jet, officials said, which are set to arrive in Ukraine later this year. Biden previously promised not to send fighter jets to Ukraine.

The officials reportedly began reconsidering the restrictions on military contracts in the country over the past few months as US funding for the war hit snags in Congress and Russia made gains in the field. One official said that companies bidding for these contracts will be required to have risk mitigation plans to combat threats to their employees.

Current and former officials familiar with the discussions said that the policy change would not result in the large American contractor presence that was seen in the Middle East, but instead would be between a few dozen to a few hundred contractors in Ukraine at a time. 

"This would be a much more focused and thoughtful effort to support Ukraine in country,” said retired Army officer Alex Vindman. Vindman was the whistleblower in 2019 who publicized a phone call then-President Trump had with the president of Ukraine at the time in which Trump asked for details surrounding the firing of a prosecutor who was investigating energy giant Burisma, on whose board Hunter Biden sat. Joe Biden bragged that as VP under Obama, he had withheld congressionally approved aid to Ukraine unless that prosecutor was fired. Vindman has also offered a lucrative proposal in which he would aid Ukraine's military in repair of US weapons.

The move comes after Biden allowed Ukraine to use US weapons to strike the interior of Russia. Ukraine did so in early June, using US-made High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems to attack a logistics and artillery center in Russia near Ukraine's northern region of Kharkiv. 

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