The Russian government has according to Sputnik issued a public warning against any thought by the Western powers – notably the US – sending weapons to Ukraine.
The suggestion that weapons might be sent to Ukraine has been repeatedly floated in the US, where it was part of the Republican Party platform in last year’s election until Donald Trump famously removed it.
The suggestion was recently revived again by Kurt Volker, the recently appointed US envoy to Ukraine, following his visit there. The BBC reports him saying the following
Kurt Volker told the BBC that arming Ukrainian government forces could change Moscow’s approach.
He said he did not think the move would be provocative.
Russia warned that anything that heightened tension could jeopardise a solution to the conflict.
Mr Volker, a former US permanent representative to Nato, was given the role in Kiev earlier this month.
“Defensive weapons, ones that would allow Ukraine to defend itself, and to take out tanks for example, would actually help” stop Russia threatening Ukraine, he said in a BBC interview.
“I’m not again predicting where we go on this. That’s a matter for further discussion and decision. But I think that argument that it would be provocative to Russia or emboldening of Ukraine is just getting it backwards,” he added.
There are some reports that this plan is also being supported by the Pentagon.
The proposal is however fiercely opposed by the US’s major European allies – notably Germany – with German Chancellor Merkel having repeatedly spoken out against it.
This proposal is an extremely bad idea. As anyone familiar with the Ukrainian crisis knows the true reason for the current deadlock in Ukraine is that the Ukrainian government simply refuses to implement the provisions of the Minsk Agreement. Supplying arms to Ukraine – including so-called “defensive arms” like anti-tank missiles – will not so much provoke the Russians as encourage the Ukrainians to launch more attacks on eastern Ukraine. The recent fighting in Syria shows that the Russians are fully capable of countering the supposed threat from US anti-tank missiles, and supplying such weapons to the Ukrainians in fact simply sets them up for a further debacle.
Someone in Washington seems to understand this because shortly after Volker floated his proposal Huckabee Sanders, the White House’s news press secretary, is said to have poured cold water on the idea.
Today’s Russian warning appears to be intended to re-emphasise to Washington the risks involved in this strategy.