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Henry M. Robert

An important decision

The US Senate approves supplies of lethal weapons and allocation of 500 million dollars in military aid to Ukraine
21 September, 2017 - 10:42
Photo by Mykhailo MARKIV

President Petro Poroshenko of Ukraine continues his visit to the US, with good news for our country coming on the very first day of the trip. The head of state wrote in Facebook on Tuesday night that the US Senate had approved the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018. Under the act, 692 billion dollars will be allocated for US military expenditures next year. Besides, it authorizes to earmark 500 million dollars for supporting Ukraine in the field of security and defense. “It is proposed for the first time on the legislative level to supply Ukraine with such defense equipment as air defense radars, sea surface observation and naval mine-clearing devices, littoral-combat and coast-guard ships,” he wrote.

Incidentally, the document approves giving Ukraine some lethal defensive armaments and allows using US state budget funds for rehabilitating the wounded Ukrainian military at the country’s medical institutions and increasing the capability of the air force and the navy.

The first thing the President of Ukraine did in the US was to meet leaders of the Ukrainian community and representatives of the Crimean Tatar organization in that country. Mr. Poroshenko pointed out assistance and support from the Ukrainian diaspora, including in the making of a new Ukrainian army, the Presidential Administration informs.

Visiting the oldest US West Point military academy, Mr. Poroshenko emphasized that US weapons would “raise the price of Russian aggression.” “In the face of such a strong deterrence, Moscow ought to think twice before mounting a new offensive,” he noted.

The president also met representatives of international investment institutions. He congratulated foreign investors on finishing to place $3-billion-worth Ukrainian sovereign bonds and thanked them for trusting Ukraine. “Each of the investors votes with his dollar for the success of our reforms,” the head of state said.

As is known, during his visit to the US, the president will take part in a number of events, the most important of which are a meeting with US President Donald Trump, scheduled for September 21, and a general-debate speech at the UN General Assembly on September 20.

SEPTEMBER 18, 2017, NEW YORK. SPEAKING WITH THE WEST POINT ACADEMY STAFF, THE PRESIDENT OF UKRAINE INVITED THEM TO FORM A PARTNERSHIP WITH ONE OF UKRAINIAN WAR COLLEGES / Photo by Mykhailo PALINCHAK

The Day requested some experts to comment on the US Senate’s decision to offer Ukraine half a billion dollars as security and defense support and to explain whether this step of Washington can really stop the aggression of Russia.

“THE SITUATION ABOUT SUPPLYING LETHAL WEAPONS REMAINS UNCERTAIN”

Hryhorii PEREPELYTSIA, Doctor of Political Sciences, conflict researcher, professor at Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv:

“This is the biggest financial aid this country has ever received since the Nunn-Lugar plan about Ukraine’s nuclear disarmament. It is in fact half a billion dollars targeted at carrying out military reform and maintaining the operational capability of the armed forces. This will perhaps also include selling military equipment to Ukraine, improving this country’s military infrastructure, etc. So, it is essential aid.

“As for lethal weapons, Congress recommended the president, as before, to supply it. For it is President Trump who will make the final decision. So, the situation about supplying lethal weapons so far remains uncertain.

“By all accounts, it is rather a moot point. Not only because Russia reacts extremely hysterically to any talk about giving Ukraine lethal weapons, but also because we ourselves have no clear plan of waging and riding out of the war. For Poroshenko’s policy absolutely rejects applying military methods in this war as well as does not recognize the war as such. The leadership does not legally admit that we are in a state of war with Russia.

“Moreover, in compliance with the Minsk process truce, the president has banned the use of force. So what’s the point of receiving US lethal weapons if our soldiers cannot use even Ukrainian-made armaments? This can really be a deterrent to transition from a low-intensity war to the escalation of hostilities and a wide-scale offensive of Russian troops. But this cannot considerably increase our military actions because they are forbidden by the president.

“Of course, if we admitted that we are in a state of war, the international community would admit that Russia is waging a war against Ukraine. But the international community interprets what is going on in this country as a domestic conflict and the Minsk Agreements as a pattern for settling a domestic, not an interstate, conflict. Accordingly, if you have a domestic conflict, why do you need lethal weapons? You will be using it against your own citizens. That’s the trouble.

“It is not only Trump’s unwillingness, but also the deadlock into which Ukraine has driven itself, confusing everybody with the abbreviation ATO and recording it as a domestic conflict.

“If we admitted it as an interstate conflict, I don’t think the White House would have any special objections. Otherwise, there are those who support and those who oppose supplying lethal weapons to Ukraine. President Obama used to say that this would only escalate the conflict, and now the situation is rather uncertain.

“The situation, including the latest wide-scale Russian military exercise ‘West 2017,’ shows that Russia is preparing for an offensive war. Hence, this increases the need for lethal weapons in order to resist the enemy if it launches a wide-scale offensive operation.”

“UKRAINE MUST CONTINUE SHOWING READINESS TO SPEED UP SECURITY AND DEFENSE REFORMS”

Hanna HOPKO, MP; Chairperson, Verkhovna Rada Foreign Affairs Committee:

“Ukraine has always had bipartisan support from the Republicans and the Democrats in the Senate. It is a very strong support. When the previous Administration was in power, President Obama was unwilling to supply weapons.

“Now we can see that there is a political will and the Senate is signaling Trump that they are ready to allow supplying lethal weapons and radars to Ukraine as well as offer medical care to our servicemen for rehabilitation. This means that Ukraine must continue showing readiness to speed up security and defense reforms, fight against corruption in this sector, and exercise parliamentary civilian control.

“This decision is particularly important on the eve of the meeting between Trump and Poroshenko and after the visits to Ukraine of Rex Tillerson in July, Kurt Volker, who has already been to Ukraine four times, and US Secretary of Defense James Mattis. These diplomatic efforts are supposed to promote the Ukrainian army’s capability of defending us from the military actions of Russia in eastern Ukraine.

“There was a lot of talk about a likely reduction of the aid package. Of course, we would like to receive more aid. But it is still good that it will not be cut down in comparison with previous years.

“Russia is constantly violating the Minsk Agreements – in fact, it hasn’t been fulfilling them at all since it invaded and launched military operations in eastern Ukraine. We have no guarantees that Russia will not begin an escalation of the conflict in the east one day, having a good enough background – more than 1,200 pieces of heavy artillery, tanks, etc. Obviously, Ukraine will be using the weapons in question to defend itself.”

By Natalia PUSHKARUK, The Day

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