The Pentagon and the US state Department has developed plans supplies to Ukraine anti-tank missiles and other weapons waiting for approval from the White house, according to U.S. officials. Meanwhile, Kiev continues to fight with the separatists, supported by Russia and relations between Moscow and Washington hang in the balance.
American military officials and diplomats say the weapons, which they described as a means of defense, designed to deter aggressive actions of Moscow, which is said to be the US and others supplied tanks and other sophisticated weapons, and has also provided military advisers to the rebels fighting against the Kiev government.
Since the in 2014 Russia invaded Crimea and annexed it and then began to support the Russian-speaking rebels in the East of the country, Washington, with caution related to the possibility of escalation of the conflict, significantly limit its support of the military command of Kiev to the so-called non-lethal weapons and conduct exercises.
A senior administration official said that the decision on the supply of arms has not been passed and was not discussed at the meeting on the topic of Russia, held at the highest level at the White house last week. The official said that President Donald Trump were not informed about this plan and his position on this issue is unknown.
Some American and Ukrainian officials say the final decision the White house can take several months.
Any decision on granting Ukraine weapons would entail a serious deterioration in relations between Washington and Moscow. Russia said it will send hundreds of American diplomats after last week the U.S. Congress approved a new package of economic sanctions against Russia.
Press Secretary of the Pentagon Colonel Michelle L. Baldanza (Michelle L. Baldanza) stated that the US does not “exclude the possibility” of providing “lethal defensive systems to Ukraine”. The Minister of defence of the USA James Mattis (James Mattis) supported the plan, according to U.S. officials.
Press Secretary of the state Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
When the Obama administration considered the possibility of arms supplies to Ukraine, she met significant resistance from German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other leaders of the allies and instead put Kiev radar short-range, night vision binoculars and other equipment.
Germany and France are still skeptical to the idea of supplying weapons to Ukraine, fearing that such moves will increase tension and deepen local conflict. However, according to American officials, they expect that the allies (maybe they include the UK, Canada, Poland and Lithuania) are ready to agree to the extension of military assistance.
“It’s really important not to aggravate the existing situation”, — said the British Advisor to the national security mark Sedwell (Mark Sedwell). “Beyond the Eastern borders already had a lot of unrest”.
According to the UN, in 2014, during the conflict in Ukraine killed about 10 thousand people. Russian support of the rebels was suspended after July 2014 missile Russian-made surface-to-air was shot down the Malaysian passenger plane, according to the international investigation.
American officials say that, in their opinion, the conflict intensified, the cases of violation of ceasefire regime, and the attempts of reconciliation stood in place.
“The level of violence increased slightly for the last time, — says General Curtis, Scaparrotti (Curtis Scaparrotti), senior commander of NATO and the United States. “The Russians supply the equipment, some kinds of their latest technology, they provide indirect support through military advisers”.
Russian officials have long denied supporting the separatists and criticized the West for its initiative in organizing exercises of the Ukrainian army. Russian officials said recently that any actions of the United States to send weapons to Ukraine will further threaten attempts to restore peace.
In the frames of the Pentagon and the US state Department will supply to Ukraine anti-tank weapons, likely rocket Javelin and anti-aircraft weapons, in addition to other types of weapons. Ukraine has long wanted to obtain the missiles Javelin to provide resistance to the Russian armored vehicles to the rebel-held areas.
American officials, however, said that the plan is to deploy anti-tank missiles at Ukrainian troops located far from the front lines: thus politicians seek to reduce the risk of escalation and to mitigate criticism that these actions will serve to reinforce the aggression of Kiev.
Javelin missiles and their launchers are lightweight, and usually carry two-person team, that is, they are extremely mobile.
If Ukraine is to use the weapon for other purposes, Washington may decide to cease its support and technical support.
Kurt Volker (Kurt Volker), appointed special representative of the USA in Ukraine in July this year, met with European officials last week and said that the decision to provide “weapons for self-defense” possible, but not necessarily, according to participants in these discussions.
Officials said that, according to Mr. Volker, in the next few months, before the elections in Russia, scheduled for March 2018, Ukraine opens a small window of opportunity for progress, but only the strengthening of measures against Moscow for its continuing intervention in Ukraine may cause any change in the current situation.
When speaking publicly, Mr. Volker played down the role of arms supplies to Ukraine can play in the escalation of the conflict with Russia.
A senior Ukrainian official said on Monday that the proposal of the Pentagon might help to convince Russia to reduce its operations in the East of Ukraine. According to the official, in accordance with generally accepted in Kiev, the view, American weapons will be used only “when absolutely necessary” and not during regular battles with the separatist forces.
The views of the American and European officials on the question of how Moscow will react to the new supply of weapons, divided. Some believe that they will push Moscow to sit at the negotiating table, others that they will contribute to the further escalation of the conflict the Russian military forces.
Given the increasing violence in Ukraine and the initiative of the separatists (for example, the statement on the establishment of their own government), some Western officials believe that attempts to increase pressure will not lead to the deterioration of the situation.
The administration of the trump tried to find common ground with Russia. Moscow and Washington with moderate success created a security zone in the South-West of Syria, and now look to the other similar zones.
However, the extension of cooperation to be very complicated investigation of the Congress, linked to Moscow’s intervention in the presidential elections of 2016 in the United States and the alleged ties of Russia with the command of the trump.
In the article participated Paul Sonn (Paul Sonne) and Dion Nissenbaum (Dion Nissenbaum) from Washington.