(By Deutsche Welle) Calls in the US to supply Kyiv with weapons have been met with deep skepticism in Western Europe. As rebels in Ukraine gain ground, NATO is divided over how to prevent a broader conflict.
Two of Washington’s key European allies have rejected calls in the US to supply Kyiv with lethal military assistance, exposing potential fault lines within NATO as the war in eastern Ukraine continues to escalate.
The White House’s pick for defense secretary said on Wednesday that he was “inclined” to support supplying Ukraine with “lethal arms.”
“We need to support the Ukrainians in defending themselves,” Ashton Carter said during a Senate confirmation hearing on Wednesday.
White House Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes told CNN earlier in the week that the administration was reviewing the question of arms deliveries.
Opposition within NATO
But across the Atlantic, major European allies have been frank in their opposition. French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told reporters that Paris has “no intention of delivering weapons at this stage to Ukraine.” His comments echoed the long-standing German position, which Chancellor Angela Merkel reiterated during a visit to Budapest on Monday.
“Germany will not support Ukraine with weapons,” Merkel told reporters. “I am firmly convinced that this conflict cannot be resolved militarily.”
Berlin’s opposition to weapons deliveries could play a critical role in White House deliberations. White House adviser Rhodes has called Merkel the “most important international partner on Ukraine.” He said that Obama and the chancellor would discuss Ukraine face-to-face during a “very important meeting” at the White House on February 9.
Kimberly Marten, an expert on Russian foreign policy at Columbia University, said that the reservations in Europe were well founded.
“There does not appear to be an endgame in the weapons proposal,” Marten told DW via email. “What will the US do if the fighting becomes worse and expands to more Ukrainian territory if we send in weapons?”