Biden Considering Lifting Ban on US Contractors Deploying in Ukraine

The proposed policy change would reportedly end a ban on American defense firms operating inside the former Soviet republic

The Biden administration is reportedly considering allowing American military contractors to maintain and repair weapons systems in Ukraine.

US officials are still reviewing the policy change, which has yet to receive final approval from Biden. The move, which is being considered as a way to strengthen Ukraine’s military against Russia, was reported by CNN on Tuesday, citing four unidentified sources familiar with the deliberations.

Biden has repeatedly stated that he will not send US military forces to Ukraine, and one source told CNN that he remains firm in this stance. However, he has approved escalating US involvement in the conflict, including providing tanks and long-range missiles to Kyiv, despite previously saying he wouldn’t take such steps.

The potential lifting of a ban on US contractors operating in Ukraine would be another step toward direct confrontation with Russia.

If approved, the latest policy change would reportedly be implemented later this year. This would enable the Pentagon to sign contracts with potentially dozens of US companies to deploy to Ukraine. Such deployments could speed up repairs of American weapons systems used by the Ukrainian forces.

Since the conflict began in February 2022, Biden has sought to keep Americans away from the frontlines, CNN said. “The White House has been determined to limit both the danger to Americans and the perception, particularly by Russia, that the US military is engaged in combat there.”

As a result, much of the US weaponry damaged in combat has been shipped to other countries, including Poland and Romania, for repairs. US troops have also used video chats to coach their Ukrainian counterparts on routine maintenance work, according to the report.

US contractors involved in the program would be required to develop “robust risk-mitigation plans,” one official told CNN.  

The potential escalation in US involvement comes at a time of rising tensions between Moscow and Washington. On Sunday, a Ukrainian attack with US-supplied ATACMS missiles killed at least four civilians, including two children, and injured over 150 in Sevastopol. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov pointed out that Washington not only provided the missiles, but also their complex targeting.

We understand perfectly well who is behind this,” . He added, “Of course, the direct involvement of the United States in hostilities that result in Russian civilians being killed [will] have consequences.” 

The Pentagon denied involvement in targeting of the missiles, saying Ukraine makes its own attack decisions.