The United States has provided hundreds of millions of dollars and aiding equipment for Ukrainians defending their country from Russian-backed separatist and a war that has killed more than ten thousand Ukrainians.And now, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis says the Trump administration is strongly considering providing lethal weapons to Ukrainian forces.
“We are actively reviewing it, I will go back now, having seen the current situation and being able to inform the Secretary of State and the President in the very specific terms what I recommend for the direction ahead.”
The issue of providing defensive weapons to Ukraine has been justified by some who know the country needs the tools to protect itself from Russia’s attacks against its sovereignty including annexing Crimea and supporting separatist in the east.
“We do not and we will not accept Russia’s seizure of the Crimea.And despite Russia’s denials, we know they are seeking to redraw national borders by force.”
Others worry providing such weapons will provoke Russia and escalate the conflict, causing even more Ukrainians to die.
“The morality of doing something that would have a counterproductive result struck Obama as a mistake. That was his interpretation, we don’t know where President Trump’s interpretation will wind up.”
Mattis visited the country a day before an expected cease-fire in eastern Ukraine to coincide with the start with the new school year.But experts caution the cease-fire could be a tactical and self-serving move by the Russians.
“I don’t believe it will be likely to endure but it’s probably a negotiating ploy to try to get the United States and other countries and actors to see things more in favor of avoiding any escalation and avoiding giving weaponry to the Ukraine.”
American officials say they continue to remain committed to diplomatically resolving the conflict in Ukraine.But as Afghanistan, the Islamic State militant group and North Korea have emerged as high U.S. priorities in recent weeks,some fear the conflict in Ukraine will be overshadowed.
Carla Babb, VOA News, the Pentagon.