"A bill would send U.S. anti-tank systems and radar equipment with the ability to detect missile threats to the sprawling battlefield in eastern Ukraine and would push the Obama administration to outline a two-year plan for "protecting and defending the Ukrainian people from attacks" by Russian-backed separatists," the article reads.
"House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry, Texas Republican, and ranking Democrat Rep. Adam Smith of Washington state introduced the measure a day before German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and Russian President Vladimir Putin are to meet in Minsk, Belarus, to try to forge a cease-fire deal after previous efforts broke down. Backers of the House bill said the goal is to let all sides know there could be military consequences if diplomatic solutions aren't found," the journalist writes.
"Introducing legislation now will help, we hope, the German and French effort to negotiate a settlement by demonstrating to Russia that future success might not be so easy and that their future costs will increase," said Michael Amato, a spokesman for Mr. Smith.
"While Mr. Obama calls for patience, lawmakers on Capitol Hill - and even some members of Mr. Obama's security team - support shipping arms. In his confirmation hearing last week, Mr. Obama's nominee for defense secretary, Ashton Carter, told lawmakers he was "very much inclined" to provide lethal arms to Ukraine. Former Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright and Sen. Sherrod Brown, Ohio Democrat, also have publicly supported the move. There is resistance, however, from lawmakers who support Mr. Obama's reserved strategy and echo the concerns of Mrs. Merkel, who said sending arms could inflame an already tenuous conflict and would never match what Russia could supply to the separatist forces," the article reads.
During a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Tuesday, Sen. Angus S. King Jr., Maine independent, warned that providing defensive weapons to the Ukrainians would engage the U.S. government in "a chess war" with Mr. Putin and inadvertently support his agenda: "We're playing chess with a Russian here, and if you play chess with Russia you'd better think two or three moves ahead," Mr. King said. "And my concern is that, A) Russia has a historic paranoia about encroachment from the West; and, B) Putin probably wouldn't mind a manageable little war in Ukraine right now to take the people's minds off of the domestic problems. Margaret Thatcher's approval rating the day before the Falklands War was 23 percent. Two weeks later, it was 70 percent. I suspect Putin may not know those numbers, but he knows the phenomenon."
Ukraine's "military problems are very structural, very fundamental," said Michael Kofman, a Russia specialist at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and a consultant to the Pentagon. He also said that arming Ukraine is one of the fastest ways to "start a pretty reckless escalation cycle."
Despite the potential costs to action, national security analysts say, there are also serious costs to inaction.
"By withholding weaponry from Ukraine, the U.S. government would be leaving the door open for Mr. Putin to send Russian forces to pressure other neighboring nations with which the U.S. has legal treaty obligations to support and defend," Eric Edelman, former undersecretary of defense for policy, told the Senate Armed Services Committee.