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Why America should send weapons to Ukraine


The BBC reports that for the most part the Minsk Agreement has been observed, except both sides refused to withdraw heavy artillery. And, of course, in the city of Debaltseve where the Russian supported Ukrainian rebels have kept up their shelling of this important rail way hub. While the separatist have been all too happy in violating the agreement, the leader of the separatist Donesk People’s Republic claims that the city is already taken and mopping up operations are underway. The Ukrainian army says that they are surrounded, but still in control of the city. Loosing Debaltseve would be a giant blow to the embattled Ukrainian government because it would make it harder for supplies and troops to reach the Ukrainian army.

How did France and Germany respond to the blatant violations of a truce that isn’t even a couple of days old? Associated Press reports that the EU has placed sanctions on an additional 19 Russian politicians, including the Deputy Minister of Defense, and additional 9 entities (including one Russian organization that openly supports the separatists). Brussels says that it is also working on new economic sanctions. Now, that’s just great because we know how well the sanctions against Russia have worked before! The current situation in Ukraine is proof of that.

To be fair, BBC reports that Russia faces an economic crisis with inflation projected to reach 12%-15% and its currency, the ruble, has collapsed. For the first time since Putin came to power the real income of ordinary Russians is expected to shrink. However, Russians have been through much worse in their history. Most of them have survived the Soviet Union and there are still folks who went through World War II. So I believe they can shrug off a couple of sanctions from countries that don’t really seem to care about Ukraine.

That is why Obama and the Americans as a whole must stop giving support to these half-hearted attempts to bring the Ukraine Civil War to an end. Instead, the United States government should start sending anti-tank weapons and ammunition to the embattled Ukrainian army. Congress has already taken steps towards that, with both Houses unanimously passing legislation that would authorize the President to send arms to Kiev. According to Reuters, lawmakers are working on a legislation that would force President Obama to provide weapons to Ukraine. Even Obama’s new pick for Defense Secretary, Ashton Carter, says he might support sending arms to Ukraine. Obama would do well to listen to Senator John McCain who said “The Ukrainians are being slaughtered and we’re sending them blankets and meals.” It is up to the United States to stop that slaughter since clearly France and Germany have dropped the ball.

Of course some naysayers, like professor Cory Welt from George Washington University, warn that providing arms to Ukraine would only help to escalate the war. I respectfully disagree. Providing lethal weapons to Ukraine should help boost Ukrainian morale because it will tell them that the United States stands behind them and will not let their fragile democracy collapse. Plus that is where the sanctions might actually come in handy. The United States has much greater military resources than Russia, so by making the Ukrainian army stronger Putin would have to expand Russia’s dwindling resources, which have already been hurt by sanctions, to prop up the rebel governments and Crimea. The Russian economy, which as I said is already on the brink, would not be able to handle such a strain. Therefore, a combination of arms and sanctions might actually force Russia to cut off their support to the rebels to protect their exhausted economy and at that point defeating the separatists would  happen in only a matter of time.

On a final note I would like to speak to American ideals because they would serve as further justification. The United States has always prided itself on fighting for freedom and self-government, even if those fights (like Iraq) were disastrous. In Ukraine we face a scenario where a free country is being bullied and threatened with partition. Ukraine’s free institutions and government could collapse if Russia gets its way. So if Americans truly stand for the principles described above they are justified in helping Ukraine anyway they can, including arms shipments.

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Why America should send weapons to Ukraine