WASHINGTON, December 19 (Sputnik) – US President Barack Obama had more to lose than gain in political terms by not signing the Ukraine Freedom Support Act, which includes authorization for the provision of lethal aid to Kiev, two scholars told Sputnik News Agency.
“Congress had bipartisan support for this legislation. The bill gave the executive branch more options and authorities for dealing with the conflict in Ukraine, without costing it anything. Saying no would have cost the White House political capital, and bad publicity, without reason,” Wilson Center scholar Michael Kofman told Sputnik Thursday.
The bill provides more policy freedom without constraining the executive branch, Kofman, who served as an adviser to military and government officials on issues in Russia and Eurasia, added, which is why President Obama had “no reason not to sign it.”
The scholar said that signing the act did not necessarily raise the odds of providing lethal aid to Ukraine, although he did admit that “if this policy [arming Kiev] was selected, it is now very easy to implement.”
Carnegie Endowment scholar Balazs Jarabik expressed similar sentiments. He explained that signing the legislation showed “symbolic” support for Ukraine while, at the same time, did not require the administration to act.
Specifically, Jarabik pointed to verbiage in the Obama administration press release, which seemed like a sort of disclaimer, in which the White House indicates that “it does not intend to impose sanctions.” Hence, according to Jarabik, it is unlikely the United States will be arming Ukraine anytime soon.
On Thursday, President Obama signed into law the Ukraine Freedom Support Act, which contains sanctions provisions on various Russian persons and entities and gives the White House the ability to provide military assistance to the Ukrainian government, should President Obama decide to do so.
The United States, the European Union and a number of other countries have already introduced several rounds of sanctions against Russia, targeting its banking, energy and defense sectors, over Moscow’s alleged involvement in the Ukrainian crisis. Russia has repeatedly denied the allegations.