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Monday, June 26, 2017

US Supplying Weapons to Ukraine 'Will Only Add More Fuel' to Donbass Crisis

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    US and Ukrainian soldiers attend an opening ceremony of the joint Ukrainian-US military exercise 'Fearless Guardian' at the Yavoriv training ground

    US Supplying Weapons to Ukraine 'Will Only Add More Fuel' to Donbass Crisis

    © AFP 2017/ YURIY DYACHYSHYN
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    On Sunday, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said that Ukraine expects that the United States will decide on supplying Kiev with defensive weapons later this year.

    At the same time, he said that currently the US and Ukraine are not discussing the supplies of lethal weapons. 
    Last week, US media reported that Washington plans to provide military assistance to Ukraine in 2018. 
    "[The bill on Pentagon’s 2018 budget] includes military assistance to Ukraine and calls on the [Trump] Administration to provide lethal aid to the Ukrainians so that they can defend themselves against the aggression from the East," Mac Thornberry, chairman of the House of Representatives’ Armed Services Committee, was quoted as saying by The Hill.
    In early May, the US Senate approved the draft federal budget until September 30, 2017, in which the country continues to provide financial assistance to Ukraine in the amount of at least $410 million, including military support. 
    The document reads that the Pentagon may spend $150 million on "providing assistance, including (military) training, equipment, lethal weapons for defense purposes, logistics assistance," as well as intelligence community assistance for the military and national security forces of Ukraine.
    Andrei Krasov, the first deputy chair of Russia's lower house of parliament defense committee, Washington should convince Poroshenko to observe the Minsk agreements, instead of supplying weapons to Kiev. 
    "By providing Kiev with weapons that are more than just defensive, they will only add more fuel to the current crisis. Instead of supplying weapons, Washington should convince Poroshenko and his government to start implementing the Minsk agreements. This is the only way to start resolving the crisis," Krasov told Sputnik. 
    The lawmaker stressed that weapons supplies would be a violation of the Minsk agreements. 
    "Of course, this is a violation. Any weapons supply would violate the Minsk agreements because the conflict is underway and it cannot be settled with weapons supplies," he said. 
    Krasov added that if it is possible Moscow will discuss the issue with Washington. 
    "We will try to discuss the issue with the US because the only way to settle the conflict is the implementation of the Minsk agreements. We will also discuss the issue with our colleagues in France and Germany," he said. 
    The lawmaker said that dialogue is the only way to resolve the situation. 

    In turn, Franz Klintsevich, First Deputy Chairman of the Russian Federation Council Committee on Defense and Security, said that the difference between defensive and lethal weapons is sometimes hard to see and Russia is strongly against supplies of any weapons to Ukraine. 
    "As a military man I say that today the term 'defensive weapons' is quite relative… The Russian position is clearly determined — we strongly oppose weapons supplies to the country mired in civil war," Klintsevich told Sputnik.
    He added that the possible weapons supply from the US would also play a psychological role.
    "These supplies will be perceived by Kiev as a confirmation of validity of its course in Donbass, and this will further destabilize the situation," the lawmaker pointed out. 
    Russia and the majority of European politicians have repeatedly spoken out against the planned supply of lethal weapons to Ukraine, warning that this could lead to a further escalation of the armed conflict in Donbass and hamper the implementation of the Minsk accords.
    In particular, former Foreign Minister of Germany and now German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier previously stated that the supply of arms to Ukraine is a very risky and counterproductive way out of the crisis. The chairman of the NATO military committee Gen. Peter Pavel said that he did not see the need for the supply of lethal weapons to Kiev, because it "will only increase the suffering" of people.

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