Heavy Arms Deliveries From West Could Result in Superpower Standoff, Researcher Warns
06:43 GMT 30.05.2022 (Updated: 08:34 GMT 30.05.2022)
© Flickr / 4-319 Field Artillery RegtU.S. Soldiers assigned to Bravo Battery, 4th Battalion (Airborne), 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat team set up an M119 A2 Howitzer during a mission rehearsal exercise (MRE) at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Hohenfels, Germany, March 17, 2014
Earlier, the US authorities made it clear that their goal is to weaken Russia, with high-ranking officials, including President Joe Biden, even calling a power shift in the Kremlin desirable. According to Norwegian researcher Julie Wilhelmsen, Western arms deliveries to Ukraine may serve this goal, prompting a fierce response from Moscow.
Researcher Julie Wilhelmsen at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI) has cautioned that heavier arms contribution to Ukraine, including those from her home country, may exacerbate the conflict.
The past week, the US identified Norway among the countries sending heavier weaponry to Ukraine and thanked it for its contribution.
While the Norwegian authorities, for security reasons, neither confirmed nor denied the information, numerous outlets, including the newspaper Klassekampen, identified the weapons in question as self-propelled class M109 howitzers, Norway's heaviest arms contribution so far, with a range of 30 kilometres. Colonel Kristian Lien, head of artillery and air defence at the country's Army Land Warfare Centre, identified the howitzers as “the heaviest artillery Norway has”.
Wilhelmsen called the arms deliveries “logical”, but at the same time warned of risks of escalation.
“One must be aware that Norway’s contribution naturally falls into a larger investment on the part of the US, which sends increasingly heavier weapons – to a greater extent. It can be about more than enabling Ukraine to defend itself”, Wilhelmsen claimed in an interview with Klassekampen.
The researcher pointed out that the conflict could change its nature from a local one to one between superpowers. Wilhelmsen pointed out the US authorities have stated that their goal is to weaken Russia, and that some voices, including President Joe Biden, have ventured that a power shift in the Kremlin is desirable. She said she couldn't rule out that such goals may be behind the US contribution to Ukraine.
She stressed that at the present moment “no one seems interested in negotiations” and furthermore suggested that the Kremlin “may act violently” if it believes Ukraine had a realistic chance of taking back Crimea by force, given the huge extent of arms supplies from the West.
Norway's 109Ms are surplus material and have been in emergency storage since 2020 following a switch to more modern gear. Previously, the Nordic country confirmed it had delivered 2,000 M72 anti-tank weapons and 100 anti-aircraft missiles to Ukraine, and had pledged NOK 400 million ($43.7 million) to a UK-led initiative to buy arms for Ukraine.
Since the launch of Russia's special operation to "demilitarise and de-Nazify" Ukraine and protect the people of the Donbass republics, Western nations have been flooding Ukraine with arms and military gear. The US alone has committed billions of dollars in arms support to Ukraine in a matter of months, while its allies in Europe and beyond have contributed hundreds of millions of dollars more. Tellingly, many nations, including the Scandinavian ones, have abandoned their long-standing principle of not sending arms to countries with ongoing conflicts.
Russia has repeatedly warned the West of the risk of sending arms to Ukraine, stressing that the cargoes constitute a legitimate military target for Russian missiles, and that such assistance merely serves to prolong the conflict, even risking a direct confrontation with NATO. Among others, Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov described the arms deliveries as “pouring oil on the fire”.