US has turned over some seized Iranian weapons to Ukraine

1.1 million rounds of ammunition were transferred to Ukrainian hands over the weekend

John Bowden
Washington DC
Wednesday 04 October 2023 22:57 BST
House votes to fund government for further 45 days

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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas


The US military has found a workaround as future funding for Ukraine’s military defence against Russia looks to have an uncertain path through the US Congress.

Defence officials, partnered with the US Justice Department, have reportedly been working for months to facilitate the transfer of weapons including rifles and anti-tank missiles to Ukraine’s weapon from an unlikely source — Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

The contribution is hardly voluntary; US officials seized the weapons, ammunition and other supplies as it was bound for Houthi-controlled territory in Yemen where Iranian-backed forces have been fighting a US-Saudi coalition in a brutal regional conflict for years. Now, some of those weapons are on the front line, or close to it, in Ukraine.

US Central Command confirmed the transfer of weapons in a press release on Tuesday. CNN reported separately that the effort between the military and Justice Department had been going on since at least March, with DOJ officials using the civil forfeiture process to navigate Washington red tape.

“On Oct. 2, 2023, the U.S. government transferred approximately 1.1 million 7.62mm rounds to the Ukrainian armed forces. The government obtained ownership of these munitions on July 20, 2023, through the Department of Justice’s civil forfeiture claims against Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC),” reads the CENTCOM press release.

“The munitions were being transferred from the IRGC to the Houthis in Yemen in violation of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2216.”

It’s a sign of good news for Ukraine’s military and civilian government, which had resorted to dispatching President Volodymyr Zelensky to Capitol Hill in the hopes of ginning up continued support from US lawmakers. While the Senate remains largely unified around the issue, the House Republican caucus has increasingly been home to a skeptical faction of the GOP opposed to further funding for a range of reasons.

On Sunday, President Joe Biden addressed the issue of Ukraine funding during a press briefing following the House’s passage of a clean funding resolution to avert a shutdown. The prospect of Ukraine funding making it through the House, at least in the immediate future, looks bleak as a group of rebel Republicans ousted their party’s Speaker, throwing the chamber into a standstill, on Tuesday.

”[F]olks, you know, overwhelmingly there's overwhelming number of Republicans and Democrats in both the House and the Senate who support Ukraine. Let's vote on it,” the president urged in his remarks.

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