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Sunday, February 19, 2017

Washington Unlikely to Make 'Fatal Step' of Sending Lethal Weapons to Kiev

Ukrainian and US servicemen unload armoured cars from a plane at Kiev airport on March 25, 2015 during a welcoming ceremony of the first US plane delivery of non-lethal aid, including 10 Humvee vehicles

Washington Unlikely to Make 'Fatal Step' of Sending Lethal Weapons to Kiev

© AFP 2016/ SERGEI SUPINSKY
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Hardliners in Washington have long advocated providing lethal assistance to Kiev, but the Trump administration appears to be reluctant to listen to these calls at the moment. There are currently no indications that the White House is ready to give the green light to the initiative, defense analyst Victor Murakhovsky told Sputnik.

Should the Trump administration decide to send lethal weapons to Kiev, "this will be a lethal step for Ukraine and the United States," he noted. "The US and NATO understand that if an official decision on arms deliveries is made, then it will give a free hand to the other side to take similar steps. This could significantly alter the situation in south-eastern Ukraine in terms of the military balance."
Earlier this month, US Senator John McCain, a fierce critic of the Kremlin, called onDonald Trump to provide "defensive lethal assistance" to Ukraine so that Kiev could ostensibly defend its territories from Russian-backed independence supporters. The Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee also blamed Moscow for "destabilizing" Ukraine. In December, a group of 27 US senators urged Trump to ramp up political, economic and military support for Kiev.
Similar calls have been made since a civil war broke out in Ukraine following a foreign sponsored coup, with the West largely blaming Russia for the bloodshed. Moscow has consistently denied any involvement in the conflict, making every effort to resolve it through diplomatic means.
So far Washington has refrained from providing lethal weapons to Kiev. Russia, Germany and those trying to promote the Minsk peace process have warned that lethal assistance to Kiev would only exacerbate tensions and fuel violence in Ukraine.
Defense analyst Igor Korotchenko, chief editor of the Russian magazine National Defense, echoed these sentiments, saying that such a step would "further destabilize the situation in the Donbass region, resulting in more casualties and leading to more bloodshed."
The analyst also pointed out that Washington would become directly involved in the Ukrainian civil war if it sends lethal aid to Kiev.
Korotchenko expressed hope that Trump will be prudent enough not to adopt the Obama administration's policy toward Ukraine. "At the same time, let me point out that even Obama refrained from sending lethal weapons to Kiev. Let's hope that Trump will also decide against making this step," he said.
Moscow has repeatedly expressed concern over Kiev's actions in the Donbass region, saying that the Ukrainian authorities were derailing the Minsk agreements.
"The situation in southeastern Ukraine has deteriorated recently. The goal of this escalation is clear. It is aimed at disrupting the Minsk agreements. Ukrainian authorities are not ready to resolve this complex issue through peaceful means and have prioritized a military solution," President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday.

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At midday on Friday 5 February, 2016 Julian Assange, John Jones QC, Melinda Taylor, Jennifer Robinson and Baltasar Garzon will be speaking at a press conference at the Frontline Club on the decision made by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention on the Assange case.

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