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14 Mar, 2014 10:39

America’s see-saw over military aid to Ukraine

America’s see-saw over military aid to Ukraine

The US has ‘for now’ refrained from supplying military aid requested by the new self-proclaimed Ukrainian government. The already-promised $1 billion financial aid also remains suspended as the Senate has postponed its decision until March 24.

On Wednesday, US President Barack Obama held a meeting with Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk of Ukraine, discussing “how to find a peaceful resolution to Russia’s ongoing military intervention in Crimea that would respect Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity,” reported the White House official website.

During the meeting, Obama noted in particular that Russian government “will be forced to apply a cost to Russia’s violations of international law and its encroachments on Ukraine.”

Though the Obama administration has agreed to send a shipment of military rations to Ukraine, the US authorities refused other demands of the self-proclaimed Ukrainian authorities, such as requests for supply of arms, ammo and aviation fuel, and the sharing of intelligence data, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The WSJ maintains that the Obama administration is facing a “difficult balancing act,” so the refusal has been stemmed from concerns over further deterioration of relations with Russia.

Earlier this week Russia’s Foreign Ministry said Washington’s decision to provide financial aid to the coup-appointed government of Ukraine goes against the US laws, urging American politicians to think about the consequences of supporting the radicals in Kiev.

The US Secretary of State John Kerry announced during his visit to Kiev last week that Washington is preparing a $1 billion loan for the coup-imposed government of Ukraine.

Yet according to the US laws providing financial support to governments which came to power via a coup is strictly prohibited, senior editor of Executive Intelligence Review Jeffrey Steinberg told RT.

This prohibition was applied just recently, Steinberg stressed, when the US Congress freezing financial aid to Egypt, following the 2013 military coup, which resulted in the ousting of President Mohamed Morsi.

Still, an unspecified senior US official told the WSJ that the rejection to aid with lethal is not ultimate.

“It's not a forever 'no’, it's a 'no for now’,” the source told the WSJ.

In anticipation of the visit to Ukraine of a delegation of the US lawmakers, America’s ‘hawk #1’, Republican Senator John McCain strongly criticized the Obama administration for its indecisive position over Ukraine.

“We shouldn't be imposing arms embargoes on victims of aggression,” McCain said.

At the same time Jeffrey Steinberg told RT that “ironically under that [Egyptian] debate Senator John McCain was one of the leading voices arguing for a total cut off of all the military aid to Egypt. So now he’s on the exactly opposite side of the same debate.”

Over the last several months there have been multiple reports that far-rights extremists were taking active part in protests against the government of President Viktor Yanukovich.

Kiev, January 20, 2014.(Reuters / U.S. Coast Guard)

The protests in Ukraine’s capital Kiev and country’s western regions that ended with a power seizure on February 22 were accompanied by

arms pilfering in seized police stations.

Yet the latest data suggests that the scale of the problem is much greater. A source in the Ministry of Interior of Ukraine has told Russia’s RIA-Novosti that unidentified people reportedly seized arms warehouses in Western Ukraine, stealing over 5,000 Kalashnikov assault rifles, 2,741 Makarov 9mm pistols, 123 machine guns, 12 rocket flame-throwers and allegedly even some Igla MANPADs.

Both Washington and Moscow have announced deployment of additional forces close to Ukrainian borders and conducted “planned beforehand” military drills in the regions close to Ukraine.

Russia and the US continue to pursuit a diplomatic solution for the Ukrainian crisis as the US Secretary of State John Kerry is scheduled to meet his Russian counterpart Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in London on Friday.

On Sunday, March 16, the Crimean Autonomous Region of Ukraine is to hold a referendum, which could decide whether the region will stay independent or join Russia.