German Chancellor Angela Merkel is in Washington today to discuss the Ukraine crisis with U.S. President Barack Obama, whose administration is weighing whether to arm that country’s military.
Merkel has spoken out against sending lethal weaponry to Kyiv, but foreign policy and defense officials in the United States say that while they support diplomatic initiatives, they want to keep open the option of reinforcing Ukraine’s beleaguered army, Radio Free Europe reports.
“We are united in our diplomacy,” U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said. “But the longer that it takes … the more we will be forced to raise the costs on Russia and its proxies.”
Over the weekend, a top official with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which has been monitoring the fighting, also urged caution, the Guardian reports.
Lamberto Zannier, the OSCE’s secretary general, said rebel forces in Ukraine are getting steady supplies of new weapons and are able to keep their vehicles fueled up. “Although OSCE monitors had not directly observed military equipment crossing over the border from Russia, because they were being denied access to much of the frontier, he said he could only assume that was where new weapons were coming from,” the Guardian reports.
Still, Zannier told the newspaper that the appearance of American weapons on the battlefield could reinforce the narrative being pushed by separatists and Russia’s leaders that the rebels are in a war with NATO and the West, possibly causing “the Russians to take a more direct role in the conflict, because it might push Russia to see itself somehow threatened.”