The US Department of State has signed off on a $47-million sale of 210 shoulder-fired Javelin anti-tank missiles requested by Ukraine, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency announced on Thursday.
"This will not solve the Ukraine issue," Chas Freeman, former US Assistant Secretary of State for International Security Affairs, warned. "It will escalate the fighting."
The weapons sale was more likely to "reduce Kiev's incentive to pursue a political solution," Freeman said.
JAVELIN MISSILES SALE MAY WORSEN UKRAINE ARMY’S PROBLEMS
University of Rhode Island Professor of Peace Studies Nicolai Petro cautioned that selling the Javelins to Kiev could make the Ukrainian army worse, not better by shifting the focus away from its core problems.
"It is hard to disagree with British defense adviser to the Ukrainian military, Glen Grant, who wrote recently that Ukrainian military's main problems are organizational, and that therefore giving the army Javelin anti-tank missiles will not remove those flaws, and may even make them worse," he said.
Ukraine did not even need the Javelins, Petro pointed out.
"Since these weapons are not to be used for offensive purposes, and Russia is unlikely to launch an attack on Ukraine after four years of status quo, they have no practical use," he said.
The effectiveness of the Ukrainian army was seriously undermined by the massive level of corruption in the country, Petro acknowledged. US officials recognized the scale of the problem, but were divided in how to address it.
The overarching priority of Ukraine policy for the State Department might be enhancing the stability of the current government, while the overarching priority for the Treasury Department might be financial reforms, Petro noted.
"The National Security Council and the president's top advisers must reconcile these differing priorities in practical application," he advised.
US OFFICIALS DESPAIRING OF SOLVING UKRAINE CORRUPTION
Petro also said some officials in the US government had lost hope that Ukraine can serve as a reform model and were concerned about the long-term costs of propping up the Ukrainian economy.
"On the other hand, there are also those who see such an investment as a relatively inexpensive way to bog Russia down in eastern Ukraine. It seems to me that so far the latter group is far larger than the former group," he said.
US disappointment with Ukraine's progress on corruption was not a new concern, but a persistent one that various US administrations have at times been willing to overlook in order to try to bring Ukraine into the West's sphere of influence, Petro explained.
If the US government does not address such an obvious violation by one country, it will be used as an excuse by other countries to do the same, Petro observed.
The military conflict in Ukraine has been ongoing since 2014, after residents of Donbas refused to recognize the new Ukrainian government, which had come to power in a US-supported coup.
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