Tuesday, November 20, 2018

US ready to boost arms supplies to Ukraine naval and air forces, envoy says

November 20, 2018 (The Gardian) In an interview with the Guardian, Former ambassador to NATO Kurt Volker said there was still a substantial gap between the US and Russia over how a United Nations peacekeeping force could be deployed to end the four-year war, and predicted that Vladimir Putin would wait for presidential and parliamentary elections in Ukraine next year before reconsidering his negotiating position.
However, Volker argued that time was not on Putin’s side. He insisted pro-western, anti-Russian sentiment was growing in Ukraine with every passing month. And he made clear that the Trump administration was “absolutely” prepared to go further in supplying lethal weaponry to Ukrainian forces than the anti-tank missiles it delivered in April. 

Tanks pass during a military parade marking Ukraine’s Independence Day in Kiev, Ukraine, on 24 August 2018. Photograph: Gleb Garanich/Reuters.

They are losing soldiers every week defending their own country,” said Volker, a former US ambassador to NATO. “And so in that context it’s natural for Ukraine to build up its military, engage in self-defense, and it’s natural to seek assistance and is natural that other countries should help them. And of course they need lethal assistance because they’re being shot at.”
It’s natural for Ukraine to build up its military, engage in self-defense, and it’s natural to seek assistance. He added: “We can have a conversation with Ukraine like we would with any other country about what do they need. I think that there’s going to be some discussion about naval capability because as you know their navy was basically taken by Russia. And so they need to rebuild a navy and they have very limited air capability as well. I think we’ll have to look at air defence.
In May, Congress approved $250m in military assistance to Ukraine in 2019, including lethal weaponry. Congress had voted for military support on a similar scale in the past but was blocked by the Obama administration, fearful of triggering a matching escalation from Moscow. The Trump administration lifted that restraint in December 2017 and then approved the shipment of Javelin missiles.
The Javelins are mainly symbolic and it’s not clear if they would ever be used,” said Aric Toler, a researcher at the Atlantic Council. “Support for the Ukrainian navy and air defence would be a big deal. That would be far more significant.”
The full article is available at: