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The Syrian crisis and the new international agenda
25/10/2017

U.S. military aid to Ukraine may reignite conflict

Marcelo Rech, special cover from London

On October 19, the United States Senate approved, according to the Ukrainian president, Pyotr Poroshenko, a financial aid of US$ 500 million that will be invested in the acquisition of “defensive lethal weapons”. The North-American involvement in the crisis may reignite the regional conflict.

Republican Senator Will Hurd acknowledged that the White House considers sending aid to the Ukrainian regime “to ensure the country’s defense against Russian aggression”, he said in Washington. In London, the Ukrainian situation occupied much of the debate in the Chatham House Conference, which brings together some of the main international analysts from more than 30 countries.

There is a huge concern that the Russian-Ukrainian crisis resumes high levels of tension, especially at a moment when the West has to deal with North Korea, Syria and Brexit. What no one wants right now is for the United States to put more fuel into the fire.

“This money will be destined to war, not to social issues. It will go only to war. This means that the number of victims in our territory may increase”, said the deputy chief of Donetsk’s Operational Command, Eduard Basurin. There is no concern to hide the alliance between Kiev and Washington.

According to analysts heard in the British capital, Ukraine has been waiting for U.S. military aid for at least three years. Until then, Washington provided ammunition and equipment, besides training of National Guard soldiers. The approval of half a million dollars for heavy weapons, such as complex Javelin portable anti-tank missiles, could take the crisis to another level.

As pointed out by Tim Marshall – one of the U.K.’s leading authorities in International Relations, with more than 25 years of journalistic coverage –, “Crimea was part of Russia for two centuries before being transferred to the Soviet Republic of Ukraine, in 1954, by President Khrushchev. When Ukraine ceased to be Soviet, or even pro-Russian, Putin knew that the situation had to change”.

He went further: “Did the Western diplomats realize that? If not, they were not aware of rule A, lesson 1 of Diplomacy for Beginners: ‘when confronted with something seen as an existential threat, a great power will use force’. If they did realize that, they must have considered the annexation of Crimea a reasonable price to pay for Ukraine’s approximation to modern Europe and to the sphere of influence of the West”, he said.

Marshall also emphasized that, considering the geography of Russia, respecting the territorial integrity of Ukraine was never really an option. Vladimir Putin would never be the man who lost Crimea and, with it, Sevastópol – the only hot water port to which Russia had access.

No one came in defense of Ukraine when the country lost a Belgium sized territory. According to Tim Marshall, “Russia could not withstand the loss of Crimea, but the West could”.

It remains now to know where the conflict is going and which is the degree of involvement of countries such as the United States. Europe had already settled the matter. The need for Russian gas to warm them in the harsh winter was decisive for this.

Marcelo Rech is a journalist, director of InfoRel, specialist in International Relations, Strategies and Policies of Defense, Terrorism and Counterinsurgence and the Impact of Human Rights in Armed Conflicts.
E-mail: inforel@inforel.org.

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