Deputy national security adviser Tony Blinken has said that the Obama Administration is at least open to the idea of providing arms to Ukraine. This is the first time that the Administration has publicly admitted to considering lethal aid for Kiev. Speaking to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Blinken made clear that the White House still has significant reservations about arming Ukraine, including the fear that Russia might respond by arming the separatists even more. The Hill has the details:
“Part of the reason has been that in our judgment, as much as we’re able to throw at the Ukrainians in terms of lethal support, unfortunately if the Russians choose to, they will outmatch that easily,” Blinken told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at a hearing on his nomination for the No. 2 post at the State Department.“That said, what we’ve seen in recent days and in recent weeks, including the blatant violation by Russia of the very agreement it’s signed, the Minsk accords, [defensive lethal assistance] remains on the table. It’s something that we’re looking at,” he added. […]Although the U.S. has provided about $100 million in non-lethal military assistance, President Obama has so far been unwilling to provide Ukraine with weapons it has requested, over concerns it would further provoke Russia.Blinken said he was sure the issue would be discussed during Vice President Joe Biden’s trip to Ukraine this week.Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) hammered Blinken for not giving a “yes or no” answer when asked if he would recommend arming Ukraine to Secretary of State John Kerry if confirmed.“That is a straightforward question…You’re supposed to be coming before this committee and give us your views,” said McCain, who supports providing lethal arms.
It’s good to see that lethal aid is at least on the table, if only as a sign of the Administration’s welcome if belated decision to take Putin seriously. However, since our policy on Ukraine so far hasn’t produced either a decisive direction or much of a result so far, before deciding on this new option we must develop a wider strategy in which to evaluate it.