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America is one step closer to sending lethal weapons to Ukraine

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In a move that’s reminiscent of the Cold War, the United States Senate has passed a $612 billion defense policy bill which includes an allocation of $300 million to provide military aid to Ukraine. This aid includes things such as anti-weapons and radars, which the war-stricken country claims that it desperately needs as it continues to lose ground to the Russian-backed rebels that have been fighting for control of the eastern portion of Ukraine for the past year.

Once the Senate reconciles its bill with the House bill, it will be up to President Obama to decide whether to sign it or to veto it. However, the president has been reluctant to send lethal weapons to Ukraine on the grounds that a diplomatic solution to the deadly conflict could prevent further bloodshed, though many have questioned whether such a solution is even possible at this point.

Another reason for his hesitation is the very real possibility that Russia will respond with a show of force in the event that the United States starts supplying Ukraine with lethal weapons, not to mention the fact that, thanks to the rampant corruption in the country, weapons delivered to Ukraine have a tendency to disappear. The weapons don’t disappear completely, however, as you can expect them to appear on the black market shortly after their disappearance, a market which has been flourishing ever since the conflict first started last April.

Lastly, there’s the danger that putting lethal weapons into the hands of inexperienced soldiers poses to civilian populations. Although the United States Army has started a joint operation known as “Fearless Guardian” which aims to train Ukrainian national guardsmen, the majority of the nation’s troops have a few months or less of actual combat knowledge. Slapping lethal weapons into the hands of inexperienced troops has traditionally been a disaster for civilian populations, and considering how much suffering the Ukrainian people have already endured, more suffering is really the last thing they need.

Still, the odds of a diplomatic solution are pretty slim, and the Russian-backed rebels have been doing some serious damage over the past few months. With the Senate’s bill expected to be reconciled with the House’s version and passed before the end of July, President Obama doesn’t have a lot of time to decide how he wants to proceed. With so much support, from both Democrats and Republicans, for more intervention in Ukraine, the president may not be able to follow through with his threat to veto the bill.

 

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