US refusal to send weapons to Ukraine gives peace a chance – top Russian MP

Members of the Ukrainian armed forces ride in tanks near Artemivsk, eastern Ukraine, March 2, 2015. (Reuters/Gleb Garanich)
Barack Obama’s decision not to supply lethal weaponry to Kiev is good for the prospects of realization of the Minsk ceasefire agreements, according to the head of the State Duma Committee for CIS Affairs and Eurasian Integration.

The decision of US President Barack Obama to abstain from supplying American lethal weapons to Ukraine, made upon the results of the meeting with German chancellor Angela Merkel, increases the chances that the Minsk accords will be put into effect,” MP Leonid Slutskiy of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia told reporters on Tuesday.

A fragile hope has appeared that the ceasefire will not be broken by external factors and the process of de-escalating the conflict will continue,” he said.

Slutskiy added that the decision was, in his view, the only “spark of common sense” demonstrated by a US politician over the last year in regards to the settlement of the Ukrainian crisis.

However, we should not get deluded, the Kiev ‘party of war’ continues to insist on military assistance from the West and continues to beg for more modern arms,” he said. The Duma official explained the situation by the fact that the current leaders of the Ukrainian state needed war more than they needed peace – as it gave them a good opportunity to write off their own crimes.

Slutskiy’s comments came shortly after the German ambassador to Washington, Peter Wittig, said in an interview with AP that Obama had agreed not to send lethal defensive aid to Ukraine after meeting German Chancellor Angela Merkel in the White House in February. The diplomat added that the two leaders agreed that it was important to give some space for the diplomatic and political efforts in settling the Ukrainian crisis.

Also on Tuesday, the head of the Lower House committee for International Relations, MP Aleksey Pushkov (United Russia) suggested that the US decision not to supply weapons to Ukraine was prompted by the fears that it would provoke a split inside the NATO bloc.

Obama decided not to send arms to Ukraine because of the opposition on the part of Merkel and most of the EU nations. The US fears a split with the EU and inside NATO,” Pushkov wrote on his Twitter microblog.

The possibility of US military aid to Ukraine has earlier caused a lot of concern among Russian politicians, especially after in December last year the US Senate passed the so called "Ukraine Freedom Support Act" allowing for the provision of lethal and non-lethal aid to Ukraine and imposing additional sanctions against Russia.

Soon after this, the first deputy speaker of the State Duma, Ivan Melnikov of the Communist Party, called the US administration “the main source and the main escalation factor in the Ukrainian crisis and the anti-Russian hysteria.”

He added: “We should not expect anything different from them – force is the only thing they would understand.”

Also in December, MP Mikhail Yemelyanov of the Fair Russia party said a US Senate decision to arm the Kiev regime would prompt “adequate measures” from Russia, such as deploying military force on Ukrainian territory before the threat becomes too high.

READ MORE: ‘If US sends weapons to Ukraine, Russia should send troops’ - lawmaker