The Trump Administration’s decision to supply Ukraine with defensive weapons is an historic decision with implications far beyond the two countries themselves. It is, in fact, a belated decision since the future of the former Soviet state has hung in the balance after Russian President Vladimir Putin’s naked aggression against Ukraine in 2014.
Moscow’s aggression, first the seizure of Crimea by the Russian Federation in early 2014 and the peninsula, Ukrainian territory since 1954, is too much like the old story of a rapacious European power’s aggression that has set off two world wars. The continued sponsorship by Moscow of anti-Kiev rebels in eastern Ukraine has confirmed the worst suspicions about Russia’s eventual intentions. Vladimir Putin, the Russian dictator, has made no secret of his belief that restoration of the Russian Empire/Soviet Union’s most expansive former territorial borders is his aim. He has said,”the collapse of the Soviet Union was the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century.”
Meeting the Russian onslaught on Ukraine requires such weapons as the U.S. has now promised, i.e., American Javelin antitank artillery capable of destroying the Russian tanks leading the insurgents. The State Department official announcement said Washington was going to provide Ukraine with “enhanced defensive capabilities as part of our effort to help Ukraine build its long-term defense capacity, to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity, and to deter further aggression.” The State Department spokesman said, “U.S. assistance is entirely defensive in nature, and as we have always said, Ukraine is a sovereign country and has a right to defend itself.”
Outspoken members of Congress have long called for meeting the U.S.-backed Ukrainian government’s request for assistance. Following that announcement, Sen. John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Republican nominee for President of the United States in the 2008 election which he lost to Barack Obama., issued a statement calling on Trump “to authorize additional sales of defensive lethal weapons, including anti-tank munitions,” to Ukraine. “Vladimir Putin has chosen war instead of peace in Ukraine. So long as he makes this choice, the United States and the Free World should give Ukraine what it needs to fight back,” McCain added.
Moscow countered the American decision to supply Ukraine with weapons meant the United States “is clearly pushing [Ukraine] to new bloodshed.” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova accused Washington and Ottawa of making false claims about the conflict in Ukraine as a “pretext to begin large-scale lethal weapons deliveries to Ukraine.” The Russian response continued, “American weapons can lead to new victims in our neighboring country, to which we cannot remain indifferent,” adding, “the United States in a certain sense had crossed the line” and accused it of “fuelling the war” rather than acting as an intermediary.
Observers expected Russia would use the American moves as a pretext to take further action in Ukraine. The action comes amid a recent spurt in clashes between Ukrainian soldiers and Russian-backed separatists, and the same week the Trump administration announced it would permit sales of some smaller arms to Ukraine from U.S. manufacturers.
Outspoken members of Congress have long called for meeting the U.S.-backed Ukrainian government’s request for assistance.
Perhaps as important as the direct assistance to Kiev, the assistance to Kiev is seen as support to the whole network of the North Atlantic Alliance [NATO] which is increasingly being invoked to meet Putin’s to reinforce its eastern defenses. Perhaps as important as the direct assistance to Kiev, the assistance to Kiev is seen as support to this whole network of the North Atlantic Alliance [NATO] which is increasingly being deployed to meet Putin’s aggressive actions on Russia’s western borders.