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04/02 Ukraine: USA prepares for dangerous step, breaking ranks with France/Germany

The US is reported to be seriously considering providing the Ukrainian army with defensive weapons. The issue of arming the Ukrainian army will be on the agenda of US Secretary of State John Kerry’s visit to Kiev tomorrow, as well as that of his meeting with his Russian counterpart Serguei Lavrov and with French Foreign Affairs Minister Laurent Fabius later this week.

The US government, Lëtzebuerger Journal reports, has however ruled out providing military equipment to Ukraine in the “near future,” a presidential adviser told CNN. Paris and Berlin remain opposed to such a move, Les Echos reports, and the news garners much attention in French and German media. In an interview with Deutschlandfunk, Deputy Chairman of the SPD’s parliamentary group Rolf Mützenich voices his opposition to weapons deliveries to the Ukrainian government. Arms deliveries to Kiev is the wrong path, notes SZ.

Even if Washington decided to provide the Ukrainian army with weapons, against the opinion of France and Germany, new arms will not suffice as Ukraine does not have an army capable of using them, L’Opinion notes. Intended to help a stricken country, the move could instead prolong Ukraine’s agony and distract it from the vital task of reconstruction, The Financial Times comments. “Weapons that merely defend” do not exist, this is a misleading concept, writes De Volkskrant.

The EU, Les Echos adds, prefers to use economic sanctions, even though they have no deterrent effect on Moscow. NATO arms deliveries would further escalate the conflict and torpedo any diplomatic solution, writes Die Tageszeitung, reflecting European fears. Dictators win in the short run, democracies in the long and, for El País’s Timothy Garton Ash, the challenge is to shorten that period and stop the mayhem. To do this, Ukraine – he says – needs modern defensive weapons to counter Russia’s modern offensive ones.

Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves also believes that Ukraine needs military assistance – he said so at yesterday’s public debate with EC Vice-President Frans Timmermans. Mr Timmermans for his part stressed on the ETV TV channel that the united attitude towards Russia in relation to the Ukrainian crisis should continue – and he believes it will.

In an interview with Swiss Le Temps quoted by Latvian Diena, asked whether Russia and Ukraine are at war, former EC President José Manuel Barroso said that this obviously is an undeclared war. © European Union, 2015

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