On Monday, WSJ reported that the US defense and diplomatic establishment had devised a plan to supply lethal arms to Ukraine. The weapons, characterized as 'defensive', may include Javelin man-portable anti-tank missiles, anti-aircraft weapons, and other advanced arms. According to the newspaper, US officials want to make the weapons delivery continent on them being deployed away from the frontline in the war-torn Donbass region in eastern Ukraine.
The plan is supported by Kurt Volker, the recently-appointed US special representative to Ukraine, who said last week that the conflict in eastern Ukraine was a "hot war," and that Washington should deliver lethal weapons to Kiev to "stop Russia."
Fighting between the Ukrainian army and pro-independence militia in the Donbass intensified last month; several dozen combatants were killed and dozens more were wounded in July. Both sides have issued recriminations against the other for the escalation, with Donbass officials also accusing Kiev of indiscriminately targeting civilian areas with artillery shelling.
Ukrainian political scientist Ivan Mezyuho says he cannot dismiss the possibility that the 'anti-Russian hysteria' prevalent in Washington at the moment might induce the US to go ahead and deliver the weapons.
"I cannot exclude the supply of new weapons by the US to Ukraine, given the anti-Russian hysteria that prevails in Washington, including in the ranks of the Republican Party. Of course, I doubt that the Americans could completely satiate the appetites of the Ukrainian military, but some types of US armaments may indeed be delivered to Kiev," the commentator said, speaking to Radio Sputnik.
The expert warned that the supply of such US weapons would undoubtedly exacerbate the situation in the hot spots both in and around Ukraine.
First of all, "Ukraine would like to use the US weapons in the so-called 'anti-terrorist zone' [in the Donbass]," Mezyuho said. Second, "given that Kiev's actions are completely unpredictable, the weapons from abroad might find their way even to the border with the Transnistrian Moldovan Republic," (another breakaway territory in neighboring Moldova) where Russian peacekeepers are present, he added.
Moreover, Giraldi warned that although the Pentagon might try to keep tabs on the weapons to prevent them from falling into the hands of unauthorized users, past experience has shown that such provisions are "nearly impossible to enforce." The situation on the ground in eastern Ukraine is not exactly cause for optimism, the analyst said, given the presence of local militias. Ukraine's use of mercenary fighters and so-called nationalist battalions is another concern.
Moscow has repeatedly warned against the delivery of US weapons to Ukraine, stressing that doing so would only escalate the deadly conflict.