The White House is contemplating stepping up aid to Ukrainian military forces in light of pro-Moscow separatist advances in eastern provinces bordering Russia.
Proposals include arming Ukrainian units with anti-armor missiles, reconnaissance drones, and armored Humvees, The New York Times recently reported.
These efforts are crucial if Kiev is to have any chance of deterring rebels likely armed with Putin’s highly-sophisticated weaponry.
Russia’s military is a formidable force and possesses the world’s largest nuclear arsenal.
Putin publicly boasted about this on at least one occasion and is not above making indirect threats to obtain Kiev’s acquiescence.
In the past ten months, more than 5,000 Ukrainians-military and civilian-have been killed.
This week, a dozen members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, led by Republican John McCain, held a press conference urging the Obama Administration to step up its game.
McCain called on the White House to supply Kiev “defensive lethal assistance” and described Putin’s alleged covert aid to separatists as masking the intentions of a leader intent on “restoring the Russian Empire.”
Arizona’s five-term senator is not wrong.
Putin’s desire to rehabilitate the USSR-albeit without Marxism-demonstrated in attempts to reinstate the old Soviet Anthem and flag-coupled with current aggression in Ukraine-further illustrates this claim.
The Russian president’s 2005 assertion that the dissolution of the USSR marked “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the (20th) century” in addition to his 2009 suggestion that the verdict on Stalin’s legacy was still out are indicative of Putin’s worldview.
Putin also took a page out of Hitler’s playbook last year when he attempted to justify Russian incursion into eastern Ukraine with the erroneous notion that ethnic Russians might be in danger-contrasting Nazi claims about Germans in the Sudetenland-as a pretext for annexing part of what was once Czechoslovakia.
Semantics aside, American interests are also served by aiding Ukrainian military forces.
A year ago, then President Viktor Yanukovych — widely viewed as a Kremlin puppet by his countrymen — fled Ukraine to avoid potential criminal charges relating to the murder of protestors in Kiev and found refuge in Russia.
Yanukovych previously had rejected the wishes of his constituents, who preferred financial assistance from the EU, rather than Moscow, thus setting previously mentioned events in motion.
Ukraine’s desire to seek closer ties with Western Europe and break free from Russia’s pigeon hold makes her an automatic ally of the United States.
And that ally needs our help.
Conversely, increasing aid will not ensure Ukrainian victory (Senator McCain said this as well) but it may send a message to Putin that his aggression will not go unchallenged.
It could also pave the way for legitimate negotiations that respect Ukrainian sovereignty.
Bryan has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science and a life-long passion for politics at all levels. He has interned in the Maryland General Assembly and has volunteered for several congressional campaigns. Given this particular background, he has a unique insight into the dynamics of political analysis. When he is not writing, Bryan spends his time reading about history and frequenting Chinese restaurants.