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US May Step Deeper Into Ukraine Quagmire

Violently overthrowing the democratically elected president of Ukraine is proving to have been more of a mistake with each passing day. The US’ West Ukraine allies – engaging in what one American president would have called “suicidal nationalism” – have been unable to retake territory from separatists in East Ukraine while facing signs of an insurgency back home. In fact, it looks as though the separatists are back on the march after the latest round of peace talks fell through.

At this point US policymakers are at a crossroads. After supporting an extremely risky (if not reckless) action to move Ukraine fully into the US/EU system it appears they can not take it whole. Crimea is long gone and the war in the Donbass has proven impossible to win so far. This means they can either accept losing Crimea and much of the Donbass and focus exclusively on integrating what remains of Ukraine into NATO and the EU or assist the government in Kiev in taking all the territory lost since the coup against President Yanukovich.

While some US policy analysts have urged caution, others such as former National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley, have said directly arming West Ukraine forces is appropriate. According to a recent article in the New York Times it appears those who agree with Hadley are prevailing within the Obama Administration.

President Obama has made no decisions on providing such lethal assistance. But after a series of striking reversals that Ukraine’s forces have suffered in recent weeks, the Obama administration is taking a fresh look at the question of military aid.

Secretary of State John Kerry, who plans to visit Kiev on Thursday, is open to new discussions about providing lethal assistance, as is Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, officials said. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, who is leaving his post soon, backs sending defensive weapons to the Ukrainian forces.

Part of the driving force behind the escalation is claimed to be coming from policy analysts within the US national security establishment such as Michèle Flournoy who recently dropped out of consideration to be Secretary Hagle’s replacement. Flournoy runs a think tank backed by defense contractors called the Center for a New American Security and helped prepare a report on Ukraine that also included input from the Brookings Institution, the Atlantic Council and the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. Flournoy is rumored to likely be tapped to be defense secretary should Hillary Clinton take the White House.

The report, not surprisingly, endorses further US involvement in Ukraine and a program of sending more expensive US weapons to the Ukraine military – a move that would undoubtedly provoke Russia to escalate its already extensive involvement in the conflict. The report frames the issue as one of “deterrence” despite there being no evidence that the separatists or Russia have been deterred by violent attacks from the Ukraine military which have been going on now close to a year. Though sending weapons to Ukraine could make some defense contractors a nice amount of money.

It is worth wondering as the US prepares to step deeper into the Ukraine quagmire what (if any) US interests are at stake?

CommunityThe Bullpen

US May Step Deeper Into Ukraine Quagmire

Violently overthrowing the democratically elected president of Ukraine is proving to have been more of a mistake with each passing day. The US’ West Ukraine allies – engaging in what one American president would have called “suicidal nationalism” – have been unable to retake territory from separatists in East Ukraine while facing signs of an insurgency back home. In fact, it looks as though the separatists are back on the march after the latest round of peace talks fell through.

At this point US policymakers are at a crossroads. After supporting an extremely risky (if not reckless) action to move Ukraine fully into the US/EU system it appears they can not take it whole. Crimea is long gone and the war in the Donbass has proven impossible to win so far. This means they can either accept losing Crimea and much of the Donbass and focus exclusively on integrating what remains of Ukraine into NATO and the EU or assist the government in Kiev in taking all the territory lost since the coup against President Yanukovich.

While some US policy analysts have urged caution, others such as former National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley, have said directly arming West Ukraine forces is appropriate. According to a recent article in the New York Times it appears those who agree with Hadley are prevailing within the Obama Administration.

President Obama has made no decisions on providing such lethal assistance. But after a series of striking reversals that Ukraine’s forces have suffered in recent weeks, the Obama administration is taking a fresh look at the question of military aid.

Secretary of State John Kerry, who plans to visit Kiev on Thursday, is open to new discussions about providing lethal assistance, as is Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, officials said. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, who is leaving his post soon, backs sending defensive weapons to the Ukrainian forces.

Part of the driving force behind the escalation is claimed to be coming from policy analysts within the US national security establishment such as Michèle Flournoy who recently dropped out of consideration to be Secretary Hagle’s replacement. Flournoy runs a think tank backed by defense contractors called the Center for a New American Security and helped prepare a report on Ukraine that also included input from the Brookings Institution, the Atlantic Council and the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. Flournoy is rumored to likely be tapped to be defense secretary should Hillary Clinton take the White House.

The report, not surprisingly, endorses further US involvement in Ukraine and a program of sending more expensive US weapons to the Ukraine military – a move that would undoubtedly provoke Russia to escalate its already extensive involvement in the conflict. The report frames the issue as one of “deterrence” despite there being no evidence that the separatists or Russia have been deterred by violent attacks from the Ukraine military which have been going on now close to a year.  Though sending weapons to Ukraine could make some defense contractors a nice amount of money.

It is worth wondering as the US prepares to step deeper into the Ukraine quagmire what (if any) US interests are at stake?

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Dan Wright

Dan Wright

Daniel Wright is a longtime blogger and currently writes for Shadowproof. He lives in New Jersey, by choice.