According to the U.S. Department of State press release out on Septemebr 21, the controlled destruction of 1000 Ukrainian man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS) was completed on September 20 in northeast Ukraine, outside the city of Shostka. These weapons, deemed by Ukraine to be excess to its defense needs, are but the first installment in a 12-year weapons and munitions destruction project being undertaken by Ukraine and NATO in a NATO-Partnership for Peace Trust Fund initiative - - the largest such multilateral destruction project of its kind.

The United States is the lead sponsor of the first three-year phase of this project to which it already has contributed over $3.64 million. 12 other countries and the European Union have pledged over Ђ5.6 million (approximately $7.2 million). Ukraine is providing most of the operational funding and in-kind support. A total of approximately $27 million will be required from donors to complete the project. Additional contributions, including those from non-NATO members, will be welcomed.

In addition to the MANPADS that were destroyed, 15,000 tons of stockpiled excess and unstable munitions, including ammunition for automatic weapons, artillery shells, and mortar rounds, and 400,000 small arms and light weapons, are scheduled to be destroyed during the first phase. By the end of the twelve-year project, a total of 1.5 million small arms and light weapons, and 133,000 tons of munitions will have been safely destroyed.

The impetus for this extraordinary project is twofold. First, Ukraine has suffered several major explosions of unstable ordnance in some of its munitions depots. Controlled destruction of the remaining dangerous ordnance will reduce the public safety threat and health risk to Ukrainians who live near such depots. Second, the destruction of weapons and munitions that are no longer needed by Ukraine to defend itself will ensure that they are never obtained by illicit arms traffickers, criminals, or terrorists.


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