US Lethal Aid to Ukraine Could Spark Proxy War With Russia: Scholar

A proxy war between the United States and Russia could erupt in Ukraine should Washington decide to provide lethal assistance to help Kiev in its crackdown on independence supporters in the east, a public policy scholar from Kennan Institute told RIA Novosti.

WASHINGTON, October 10 (RIA Novosti) – A proxy war between the United States and Russia could erupt in Ukraine should Washington decide to provide lethal assistance to help Kiev in its crackdown on independence supporters in the east, a public policy scholar from Kennan Institute told RIA Novosti.

"Policy-wise it could lead to slow march into a proxy conflict with Russia," said Michael Kofman, a scholar with the Wilson Center’s Kennan Institute who previously ran the US-Russia Colonels Program at National Defense University (NDU), a military-to-military educational exchange initiative.

He warned that arming Kiev "is not a strategy for success in Ukraine." "No country that hosted a proxy war during the Cold War came out successfully for it — Ukraine will pay a high price," he asserted.

White House has been reluctant because it does not believe Ukrainian forces need or know how to effectively handle such equipment, said Kofman.

"Their [Kiev's] stockpiles are substantial and their repair facilities are quite good. What they have always lacked was money to buy their own equipment. The potential consequences are that it will not be used effectively, just like Ukraine's own equipment was used ineffectively, or it will be sold to volunteers with money given the level of corruption," Kofman added.

Kofman also raised the possibility the US might support Kiev indirectly via regional allies.

"What the US may also do is simply pay for other Eastern European countries in NATO to provide a host of small arms and light weapons to Ukraine. Ukraine called up some 60,000 conscripts this year, but how they will feed them and arm them is another question altogether," said Kofman.

Kofman's analysis comes on the heels of a comment on Wednesday by Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs (ISA), Derek Chollet, who said the United States was developing a work program that may eventually lead to providing lethal assistance to the Ukrainian government. US aid to Kiev to date has included 116 million dollars in non-lethal equipment, including counter-mortar radar detection and surveillance equipment, patrol and transport vehicles and maritime craft.

In April, Kiev forces started a military operation against independence supporters in eastern Ukraine, which according to UN figures claimed the lives of over 3,660 people and left over 8,700 injured.

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