The U.S. is considering sending military weapons to Ukraine, according to the U.S. special representative for Ukraine, Kurt Volker.
Speaking to the BBC, Kurt Volker said that the U.S. government is currently reviewing the possibility of providing lethal arms to the Ukrainian government, which is currently facing a multi-year rebellion backed by Russia in eastern provinces.
The BBC quoted him as saying,
“Defensive weapons, ones that would allow Ukraine to defend itself, and to take out tanks for example, would actually help” stop the threat, according to Volker, seemingly indicating that under consideration for delivery are anti-tank guided missiles or similar anti-armor systems.
U.S. military equipment provided to Ukraine has thus far been nonlethal systems.
While acknowledging that the provision of such weapons could lead Moscow to alter its policies towards the conflict in eastern Ukraine, Volker indicated he did not view delivering arms as provocative.
“I’m not again predicting where we go on this. That’s a matter for further discussion and decision. But I think that argument that it would be provocative to Russia or emboldening of Ukraine is just getting it backwards.”
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov replied to Volker’s statements, telling the BBC,
“We have said more than once that any actions that provoke tension on the line of separation, that provoke a situation which is already complex, will only take us further away from the moment when this internal Ukrainian issue is resolved.”
Over 10,000 people have died in eastern Ukraine since the conflict began in April 2014, according to the U.N. Though a ceasefire is nominally in effect, both the Ukrainian military and rebel forces regularly accuse each other of violations.