On Cyprus and other unintended side effects – Lara Jakes in NYT:
‘But for all of the assurances, there remains a problem. Kyiv also needs more of the Russian-style weapons that the Ukrainian military is trained to use, and the available global supply of them is running low.
To find those weapons, the United States and other allies have been scouring the globe, looking for willing suppliers in a hunt that has revealed both the promise and pitfalls of unlocking stockpiles of Russian-standard and Soviet-style weapons for use by Ukraine.
There have been some successes. Finland, which has long balanced the sensitivities of its Russian neighbor, is sending Ukraine some Soviet-style weapons, including ammunition and guns compatible with the AK-47 assault rifle. South Korea is supplying ballistic vests, helmets, medical equipment and other defense assistance.
Others like Cambodia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Mexico, Colombia and Peru have received a recent visit from Secretary of State Antony Blinken in a painstaking, behind-the-scenes diplomatic campaign to countries that have demonstrated support for Ukraine but are still reluctant to supply lethal aid.
And then there is Cyprus. It has presented a special window on the difficulties of keeping up with the urgent demand for arms that Ukraine’s troops are burning through faster than can be supplied as they claw back large swaths of territory and push the Russians to retreat.
Until this month, Cyprus had been under a U.S. arms embargo for 35 years, imposed to help tamp down tensions after a conflict left the island bitterly divided between a government backed by Greece and a portion still controlled by Turkey — both NATO members.
In that time, Cyprus turned to the Soviet Union and then Russia for weapons and military equipment. Today its stockpile of at least 10 Tor and Buk missile systems that can down Russian aircraft, drones and cruise missiles could provide a bonanza for an embattled Ukrainian army.
But the Cypriot government has made clear it wants new and better replacements, something that could antagonize Turkey and reignite an arms race in the still unresolved conflict. Even so, on Oct. 1, the Biden administration formally lifted the embargo, allowing Cyprus to buy American weapons.
American officials said the move was several years in the making and broadly intended to pull Cyprus away from Russian influence. But one U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity to describe the delicate diplomacy, said Cyprus was now “a potential option” as a supplier to Ukraine
Cyprus “would be ready to consider” transferring some of its weapons and ammunition to Ukraine if they were “replaced with other military apparatus of equal power and capabilities,” Marios Pelekanos, a government spokesman, said in a statement to The New York Times.
He cited numerous meetings with American officials in recent months, during which “we have also discussed this possibility.”
Already, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey has pledged to reinforce his troops in northern Cyprus with additional weapons as the U.S. embargo is lifted.’
Read the article here.
The arms race is just beginning.
It would be wise, for the US and the West, to train the Ukrainian army with American weapon systems (most probably this is already happening), in order to avoid more rather shameful diplomatic missions to countries like Peru and Rwanda, begging for Soviet-style weapons.
And keep an eye on Cyprus and Turkey. Maybe the next spectacle will take place there.