While Britain has consistently pushed its allies to supply Kiev with heavier armaments, nothing happens without Washington's approval, NBC News has reported
Britain makes no weapons deliveries to Ukraine without approval from the US, NBC News reported on Sunday. The report counters earlier claims that London is more willing than Washington to risk escalation by supplying Kiev with heavier and longer-range arms.
"All [British] military aid to Ukraine has been closely coordinated with the United States," NBC wrote, citing one current and one former British official. These officials, the report continued, "said the UK would not ship weapons without approval from Washington."
This statement suggests that American officials' public reluctance to send advanced and long-range weaponry to Ukraine is disingenuous. For instance, Britain was the first nation to announce tank deliveries for Kiev, a decision that gave the US and other Western powers political cover to send their own tanks some weeks later.
Rather than being pushed into action by the British - as Western media reports have suggested - the report indicates that the Americans were comfortable all along with supplying tanks, as long as London was first to make the move.
A similar situation is currently playing out with the supply of fighter jets, with the UK taking the lead last month and announcing that it would train Ukrainian pilots on the warplanes, and the US following suit several days later. Neither country has yet announced any plans to actually deliver F-16s to Ukraine, however.
American officials have since last year refused to hand over ATACMS missiles to Ukraine, citing concerns that Kiev's forces would use them to strike deep within Russian territory, provoking a devastating response from Moscow. However, the UK announced last month that it would send Storm Shadow cruise missiles, a decision that was apparently run by Washington first.
The US was "very comfortable" with London's decision to supply Storm Shadow missiles, Britain's ambassador to the UK, Karen Pierce, told NBC.
The report also implicates Washington in the supply of depleted uranium shells to Ukraine from Britain. When these toxic munitions first showed up in Ukraine in April, Moscow warned that the UK "will be held accountable" for the irreparable harm caused to civilians and soldiers alike.
A spokesperson for the US State Department did not acknowledge the existence of any formal approval process, stating instead that the US and UK "work in close cooperation to help Ukraine," in NBC's words.