The U.S. government is mulling over providing the Ukrainian military lethal weapons such as Javelin antitank missiles as well as other arms and ammunitions to help them fight pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing American officials.
The latest development followed previous reports that the U.S. is considering supplying more weapons and military equipment to Kiev. The renewed discussion over providing lethal aid to Ukraine centers on whether the move would prompt Russia to reduce its assistance to separatists or provoke it to ramp up the support further, worsening the situation, the Journal reported.
“It’s hard to predict how it would play out,” a senior U.S. official told the publication. “But what has to be factored into the decision is, of course, the Moscow reaction.”
Some officials in the U.S. government believe that a lethal aid would help Ukrainian forces better defend themselves from rebels who have been using heavy weapons allegedly supplied by Russia. But, there are other observers, who argued that Kremlin is capable of countering the U.S.-provided arms, which could further deteriorate the situation in eastern Ukraine.
The U.S. has been already providing nonlethal military equipment, such as counter-mortar detection units, body armor, binoculars and small boats, to Ukraine. But, Washington has so far delayed any decision on providing lethal weapons as it sought a diplomatic solution to the Ukrainian conflict.
However, with emergence of new fighting between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian rebels, the White House and the U.S. military leaders have begun reevaluating the question of lethal aid.
Javelins are self-guided missiles that are designed to hit and destroy heavily armored military vehicles. Being a shoulder-launched weapon, Javelin can be used by a foot soldier, but the U.S. wants Ukrainians to mount the weapon on vehicles to allow them to maneuver more quickly against enemy tanks and other vehicles, the Journal reported.
According to a report by the Washington-based Atlantic Council, the U.S. should send $3 billion in arms and equipment, including missiles, drones, armored Humvees and radars, to Ukraine. The report also urged the government to coordinate with Poland, Baltic States, Canada and Britain for further military assistance to Kiev.
"We are not arguing for a military solution, we believe the Ukrainian military cannot beat the Russian military, and right now the Russian government has shown no interest in a diplomatic settlement," Jhon Herbst, a former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine and one for the authors of the report, told Reuters. “For there to be a real diplomatic settlement the military solution has to be denied to the Kremlin.”