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To bolster its defenses against invading Russian forces, Ukraine is asking the Biden administration for armed drones, anti-ship missiles, “off-the-shelf” electronic jamming equipment and surface-to-air missiles that can strike aircraft at a higher altitude, according to four sources with knowledge of the request.

The wish list recently submitted to Washington by Ukraine also includes a request for more portable Stinger anti-aircraft missiles and Javelin anti-tank weapons, which have already proved crucial in in the government’s fight against a larger, better-armed Russian force, the sources, including two European diplomats familiar with Kyiv’s requirements, told NBC News.

Ukraine wanted help to bolster its electronic warfare efforts against Russia with “off-the-shelf” gear, including satellite navigation and communications-jamming equipment and ground-based communications to oversee drones, the sources said.

March 15, 202202:47

It remains unclear if the Biden administration will approve some of the requests for weapons and equipment, including armed drones or anti-ship missiles. The administration previously has sought to avoid delivering weapons that feature sensitive technology, either because it could fall into the hands of Russian troops or prove impractical at a moment when Ukrainian forces need equipment that can quickly be placed into action with a minimum of training.

The Ukrainian wish list was first reported by the New York Times.

Administration officials also worry about taking action that could raise the risk of a direct conflict between NATO and Russia. When the administration ruled out a proposal to help Poland send Soviet-era fighter jets to Ukraine, the Pentagon cited an intelligence assessment that concluded such a move could escalate tensions with Russia.

The Biden administration did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The request came as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is due to deliver a virtual speech to a joint session of Congress on Wednesday.

Republican lawmakers wrote a letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday urging the White House to make use of $3 billion in emergency military aid recently approved by Congress “without delay.”

March 15, 202201:09

The letter, which included a classified annex, called for providing many of the items requested by Ukraine, including “small” drones, air defense systems, “off-the-shelf” secure communications equipment and more anti-tank Javelin weapons and Stinger missile systems. In addition, the lawmakers from the armed services, intelligence and foreign affairs committees urged the administration to provide Ukraine with grenade launchers and ammunition, artillery systems, rocket systems, mortars, potable water systems, gas masks and chemical protective equipment, rangefinders, rations, first aid kits and other gear.

The letter cited the effective role of portable anti-tank and anti-air weapons systems for Ukrainian forces, but said it was vital to restock supplies of munitions. 

“As the invasion drags on, Russia will reorganize, resupply, consolidate its forces, and modify its tactics in an attempt to violently accelerate its advances. Ukrainian forces will likely have to expend munitions from these and other weapons at an increasing rate — meaning the need for restocking will only grow more urgent with each passing day,” the lawmakers wrote.

Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said last week that the U.S. was committed to equipping Ukraine with “the kinds of capabilities that we know the Ukrainians need and are using very well.”

Kirby also referred to discussions with NATO allies that have Russian-origin equipment of possible use for Ukraine’s military. “Some of that material we have and are providing. Some of that material we don’t have but we know others have, and we’re helping coordinate that as well,” he said.

Source: This post first appeared on NBC News

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