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Pentagon offers plan to arm Ukraine escalating tensions with Russia

The United States Military-Industrial Complex plan to escalate tensions with Russia and supply Ukraine with antitank missiles and other advanced weaponry.

Published: August 1, 2017, 9:40 am

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    As ties between Moscow and Washington are deteriorating, American military officials and diplomats want to provide sophisticated armaments as well as military advisers to the Kiev government, The Wall Street Journal reported.

    President Donald Trump was not informed of the plan to arm Ukraine.

    “A senior administration official said there has been no decision on the armaments proposal and it wasn’t discussed at a high-level White House meeting on Russia last week. The official said President Donald Trump hasn’t been briefed on the plan and his position isn’t known.”

    Signalling the escalation, a Pentagon spokeswoman, Lt. Col. Michelle L. Baldanza, told the WSJ the US has not “ruled out the option” of providing “lethal defensive weapons to Ukraine.”

    Defense Secretary James Mattis has endorsed the plan, according to US officials quoted by the WSJ.

    When the Obama administration wanted to supply arms to Ukraine, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other allied leaders protested and instead the US provided Kiev with short-range radar, night-vision gear and other “non-lethal” equipment.

    Under the Pentagon and State Department proposal, the US would provide anti-tank weapons, most likely Javelin missiles, as well as possibly anti-aircraft weapons, in addition to other arms. Ukraine has long sought Javelins to counter Russian-made armored vehicles in the Donbass.

    Javelin missiles and launchers are lightweight and highly mobile.

    Further escalation in Ukraine will likely infuriate Germany. It would be difficult to imagine anything more counterproductive for US relations from legislators in the US Congress.

    The German government has already weighed in with strong criticism of the latest US sanctions bill. German Economics Minister Brigitte Zypries, told Reuters: “We consider this as being against international law, plain and simple. Of course we don’t want a trade war. But it is important the European Commission now looks into countermeasures.”

    These are exceptionally strong words coming from a German Economics Minister, the US’s most important ally.

    With German parliamentary elections later this year, neither of the two parties in the ruling coalition – the SPD or the CDU – will want go against strong anti-US and anti-sanctions voter sentiment.

    President Trump may still sign an Executive Order that safeguards the positions of German and European companies which participate in Russian pipeline projects or in Nord Stream 2, which could otherwise be fined under the new US sanctions law.

    Meanwhile, the Russian response to new sanctions of limiting the number of diplomatic staff, threatens to destroy the US diplomatic and intelligence presence in Russia whilst the US has angered Germany and its other key European allies.

    “It is really important we don’t inflame the situation,” said British National Security Adviser Mark Sedwell. “There has been quite a lot of agitation from across the border in the east.”

    As in Syria, the Pentagon has said that “should Ukraine use the weapons improperly, Washington could decide to withdraw its support or technical assistance.”

    It was not immediately clear what “improper use of weapons” would consist of, but probably means taking down another Malaysian Airlines airplane over Ukraine would be not be among the actions permitted.

    Germany and France remain deeply skeptical about providing arms to Ukraine, as it would raise tensions and deepen the conflict. But US officials said they expect allies, possibly including the UK, Canada, Poland and Lithuania to welcome increased military support.

    The WSJ reported that the US “worries” about a rising number of cease-fire violations as progress on peace efforts has faltered. “The level of violence is up a bit of late,” said Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, the top US and NATO military commander. “The Russians provide equipment, some of their most modern equipment, and they provide proxy forces with advisers.”

    Meanwhile, NATO continues to deploy more troops to countries in the Baltics, Central and Eastern Europe, which Russia views an act of aggression.

    US and European officials are divided on how Moscow would respond to new arms shipments, the WSJ reported. Many believe it would “prompt the Russian military to escalate the situation further”.

    John McCain seems to be delighted about that outcome.

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