NATO’s military commander, Gen. Philip Breedlove, now supports providing defensive weapons and equipment to Kiev’s beleaguered forces, and an array of administration and military officials appear to be edging toward that position, the newspaper said.
“President Obama has made no decisions on providing such lethal assistance. But after a series of striking reversals that Ukraine’s forces have suffered in recent weeks, the Obama administration is taking a fresh look at the question of military aid,” the New York Times said.
Secretary of State John Kerry, who plans to visit Kiev on Thursday, “is open to new discussions about providing lethal assistance”, as is Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, officials said. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, who is leaving his post soon, backs sending defensive weapons to the Ukrainian forces.
The White House has limited American aid to “non-lethal” items, including body armor, night-vision goggles, first aid kits and engineering equipment.
But the failure of economic sanctions to dissuade Russia from sending heavy weapons and military personnel to eastern Ukraine is pushing the issue of defensive weapons back into discussion, the newspaper said.
“Although our focus remains on pursuing a solution through diplomatic means, we are always evaluating other options that will help create space for a negotiated solution to the crisis,” the newspaper quoted Bernadette Meehan, a spokeswoman for the National Security Council, as saying.