Report: Biden administration preparing for sale of advanced armed drones to Ukraine

According to reporting this week from Reuters, the Biden administration is prepared to sell to Ukraine armed drones capable of transporting Hellfire missiles, the latest development in White House efforts to assist in that country’s battle against Russia.

As The Hill noted, the equipment at issue consists of four MQ-1C Gray Eagle drones, known to have greater range and endurance time than systems already in use by Ukrainian forces in the conflict that began back in late February.

Reports suggest that the White House will notify Congress of the desired sale in the very near future, with a public announcement set to follow, and while a spokesperson from the State Department did not contradict the substance of the Reuters report, that individual did state that “as a matter of public policy, we do not confirm or publicly comment on proposed defense transfers until they have been formally notified to Congress.”

The representative added, “We continue to closely consult with our Ukrainian partners to ensure U.S. military assistance is adapting as needed to deliver the critical capabilities for today’s fight, such as this week’s announcement of plans to transfer Multiple Launch Rocket Systems.”

As the New York Post further reported, Congress has the ability to block the transfer, which would represent the first time that advanced, reusable U.S. drone systems of this type would be put into action against Russia.

It is worth noting that the Biden administration has earmarked money out of the recently approved $40 billion in additional aid to Ukraine for the purpose of funding both the sale as well as training for the drones, something that typically requires months, but which could be expedited for completion in a matter of weeks under the current circumstances.

After that takes place, the administration would need to authorize the Hellfire missiles for use in conjunction with the drones, according to Reuters.

The trajectory of the war has taken countless unpredictable twists and turns in recent months, and even as the Biden administration has recently signaled a willingness to send more advanced weapons while avoiding direct engagement with Russia, the president made a somewhat surprising suggestion Friday that Ukraine may need to cede territory in order to achieve halt in hostilities.

“[I]t appears to me that at some point along the line, there’s going to have to be a negotiated settlement here. And what that entails, I don’t know,” said the president, arguably raising more questions than he actually answered, particularly in the eyes of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.