US wants more countries to ‘stay away’ from Russian, Chinese arms – Report

WASHINGTON (Sputnik): The programme, which was reportedly launched last year, has already seen the State Department allocating $190 million for the delivery of US-made military hardware to six countries, including Albania, Croatia, Greece, and Slovakia.

The US State Department plans to expand its so-called European Recapitalisation Incentive Programme, which involves Washington offering Eastern European countries cash to purchase American weaponry in exchange for their giving up Russian- and the Chinese-made arms, the Defence One reports.

The website cited an unnamed State Department official as saying that Washington now wants the year-old programme to go global and help US partners “get away or stay away from Russian or Chinese [military] equipment”.

With countries outside of Europe yet to be identified by the State Department, it is believed to be considering countries in Central Asia, Southeast Asia and Africa.

According to the source, the programme obliges countries to scrap their Russian and Chinese weapons, pledge not to buy new ones and earmark some of their own funding for purchasing American arms.

If a country continues to buy parts for Soviet-era helicopters and infantry fighting vehicles, they may face US sanctions.

The goal is to “incentivise partners and allies to put in their own funds to modernise their military and divest Russian legacy equipment. The idea being, we can put in some US grant military assistance. They would then put in some amount of partner military [funding]”, the official said.

They added that the State Department does not use US taxpayers’ money to implement the programme and that it is “going in with our partner together to build an overarching capability”.

Under the programme that was unveiled in 2018, the State Department has already vowed to allocate about $190 million for the implementation of the project in six countries — Albania, Bosnia, Croatia, Greece, North Macedonia and Slovakia.

These countries are expected to move ahead with purchasing US-made helicopters and infantry fighting vehicles over the next few years.

The source claimed the programme’s second stage may see State Department earmark up to $100 million for the endeavour.