The Pentagon and State Department have sent plans to supply arms to Ukraine to the White House for approval, according to reports by The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal – a prospect that would deeply unsettle Moscow at a time of chilled relations between the US and Russia.
Pentagon spokesperson US Army Lt. Col. Michelle Baldanza told CNN that “The United States has neither provided defensive weapons to Ukraine nor ruled out the option of doing so.”
Baldanza added that the Pentagon is “not going to comment about what may or may not be part of internal policy deliberations.”
But a US defense official said there is a discussion at higher levels on possibly sending weapons to Ukraine. The official said this is a notion that was repeatedly discussed under the Obama administration.
The official said the ongoing debate covers a myriad of issues including:
- What types of weapons will be provided?
- If the weapons are only defensive in nature, does that include anti-armor and anti-tank weapons?
- Will they be provided only to border guards or to the regular army as well?
- Is it a weapons sale or a “give”?
- How will the troops receiving the weapons be trained?
- How will the weapons be sustained?
The Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Paul Selva, told the Senate Armed Services Committee on July 18 that US European Command was preparing a proposal about what a “lethal defensive aid might look like” for Ukraine.
“It will be more than just a military recommendation. This will be a policy choice on whether or not we’re going to give the Ukrainian government the tools they need to defend themselves against what we believe to be a Russian-supported insurgency movement in the Donbass,” Selva said.
State Department spokesman Heather Nauert was asked on July 25 about arming Ukraine. She said, “there was a headline that implied that we were in the process of doing what you just described. We are not there yet. Let me take out the word ‘yet.’ We are not there. The United States has not provided defensive weapons nor have we ruled it out to provide to the Ukrainians.”