Image by Ministry of Defense of Ukraine
According to reports, the Pentagon has asked The White House for permission to begin arming Ukrainian troops with lethal weapons to fight pro-Russian separatists in Eastern Ukraine. The proposal is somewhat small at a reported $50 million but includes Javelin anti-tank missiles.
The Ukrainian military has improved dramatically since the beginning of the conflict. However, they are still outgunned by Russian-supplied equipment and cannot stop a full-fledged Russian invasion in the east.
“It is the right move and I see the fingerprints of Secretary of Defense Mattis all over it,” said Ret. Adm. James Stavridis, former commander of NATO and an NBC News analyst, reports NBC News.
“This is a very logical and sensible move which will increase deterrence — because it will place doubt in the minds of Russian aggressors in terms of their use of offensive weapons systems.
“I can certainly say that we have not provided defensive weapons nor have we ruled out the option to do so,” said State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert during a briefing Thursday, reported NBC News.
The Obama administration refused to supply lethal weapons. However, it seems the Trump adminstration is more willing to confront threats where it sees them. It is important to state the weapons have not yet been approved for delivery.
The conflict in Donbass has been heating up since the sanctions bill started making its way through Congress. The talk of arming Ukraine may just be a negotiating tactic to warn Moscow not to restart heavy fighting in the area.