The Obama administration has refused to issue weapons to the Ukrainian military, but has agreed to provide training via the U.S. Army’s 173rd Airborne Brigade.
Previously, the U.S. Army has focused on training Ukraine’s National Guard, a focus which will now broaden in scope to cover the entirety of the military, The Hill reports. The Senate Armed Services Committee’s top Democrat, Sen. Jack Reed, gave the announcement Wednesday, effectively ending conflicting information coming from the Army and State Department.
The State Department said in July that the Army would begin training the rest of the Ukrainian military, but then-Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno clarified in August, saying that there was no definitive decision yet.
But most foreign policy hawks hope that the U.S. will take further steps beyond training. Reed also used the announcement to outline three steps that could be taken to arm the Ukrainians to fight off Russian incursions on the eastern border. Lethal arms, however, seem less necessary, since Reed noted that violence has declined following the establishment of more concerete control over part of eastern Ukraine by Russian-backed separatists.
According to Reed, Moscow is re-prioritizing its resources to information warfare, in an attempt to destabilize the Ukrainian government.
GOP Sen. John McCain, another senator with a close interest in Ukraine, has repeatedly used his post as chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee to question incoming military officials as to whether they’ll consider providing lethal aid to Ukraine.
McCain stated at a press conference while in Ukraine this past July that it’s “shameful that we will not provide [the Ukrainians] with weapons to defend themselves. They are fighting with 20th-century weapons against Russia’s 21st-century weapons. That’s not a fair fight.” (RELATED: McCain: It’s ‘Shameful’ Not To Send Weapons To Ukraine)
Congress passed a resolution in March by 348-48 authorizing the Pentagon to ship lethal weapons to Ukraine, but the White House refused to take action.
While the U.S. is not supplying weapons to Ukrainian forces, pro-Russian separatists have accused Italy and Poland of covertly providing mortars and mines, though Kiev has strenuously denied the charge.
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