U.S. Congress introduced an amendment to the defense budget, which includes providing lethal weapons to Ukraine, The New York Times reported.
According to The Times, the amendment amended by the Senate calls for providing Kyiv with anti-tank missile systems, mortar and rocket launchers as well as military ammunition. Therefore, Congress defies the Barack Obama administration and its European allies, which oppose supplying offensive and lethal weapons to Ukraine’s authorities.
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The proposed conditions by the lawmakers would not allow the administration to spend more than a half of $300 million allocated to help Ukraine if 20% of this amount is not reserved for offensive weapons. Similar steps have been taken by the House of Representatives.
However, up until now, the Obama administration have been refusing to supply lethal weapons to Ukraine, worried that it might lead to further escalation of the bloodshed in eastern Ukraine and would give Russian President Vladimir Putin a pretext for further advancing into Europe.
Although the legislation by Congress cannot force Obama to send cutting-edge weaponry to Ukraine, the pressure by the U.S. lawmakers might alienate the key U.S. allies in Europe – Germany and France – from Washington. With these two countries, the Obama administration has been emphasizing on economic sanctions against Russia.
Has Washington just fueled the War with Russia?
It must be pointed out that up until now, Washington has limited its aid to Ukraine to non-lethal weaponry (military off-road vehicles, drones etc.). The possibility of supplying lethal weapons to Kyiv has been discussed in Washington since the beginning of February before the Minsk cease-fire agreement was signed on February 12. As it was then reported, U.S. President Barack Obama declined the proposal to supply lethal aid to Ukraine during his meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Washington.
Opponents of the amendment believe that Washington does not have enough weapons to help the Ukrainian army defeat pro-Russian rebels. Besides, it is unclear whether the Ukrainian army has the sufficient skills to handle the US weapons or not.
“If you’re playing chess with Russia you have to think two moves ahead,” Senator Angus King, independent of Maine, who is among those lawmakers skeptical of providing arms, told The New York Times. “I am afraid this could provoke a major East-West confrontation.”
However, it is fair to say that Congress has chosen not the best time to pressure the White House. Putin has recently repeatedly accused Kyiv in violating the Minsk agreement, while urging the U.S. and its European allies to pressure the Ukrainian authorities. The lawmakers’ eagerness to help Ukraine with weapons may undermine the trust to Obama’s words about the U.S. not seeing a military resolution in settling the Ukrainian conflict.
U.S. Congress bans military support for Ukraine’s Neo-Nazi battalion
U.S. Congress has approved the amendments proposed by the Republican John Conyers, which prohibits the U.S. military from training the Ukrainian battalion named Azov. The amendments also ban supplying portable air defense systems to Iraq and Ukraine.
“I am grateful that the House of Representatives unanimously passed my amendments last night to ensure that our military does not train members of the repulsive neo-Nazi Azov Battalion, along with my measures to keep the dangerous and easily trafficked MANPADs out of these unstable regions,” the press release issued by Conyers stated.
In the press release, Conyers quotes the British newspaper The Daily Telegraph, which stated the fact that the members of Azov battalion do not hide their racist and anti-Semitic views. They also use the Wolfsangel sign as its symbol, which was used by the SS Panzer Division Das Reich and the SS Panzer Grenadier Division Nederland during the World War 2.
Russia’s fighter jet came within 10 feet of U.S. spy plane
A Russian fighter jet came within 10 feet of U.S. spy plane over the Black Sea, CNN reported, citing several U.S. officials. The incident occurred on May 30, but has been disclosed just now.
According to CNN’s sources, the U.S. spy plane was conducting patrolling in the international airspace over the Black Sea on May 30. The Russian jet flew alongside the U.S. plane at the same altitude, broke off, and then shadowed the plane before leaving the area, according to CNN.
People of the West: We don’t like Russia, but we don’t want to go to war against it
People in the West do not like the Russians and view Russia as the aggressor of the war in Ukraine, according to the recently published survey conducted by the Pew Research Center in eight NATO countries.
However, not a significant percentage of people expressed their willingness to use military force to defend any NATO ally from Russia’s aggression.
The Pew Research Center surveyed respondents in the U.S., Poland, Spain, Canada, Germany, France, Italy and the U.K, and found that the West feels less and less optimistic about Putin’s ability to “do the right thing” in world affairs.
Less than half of respondents in every country except Poland supported the idea of sending arms to Ukraine to defeat pro-Russian rebels and end the one-year-old conflict. Meanwhile, as much as 70 percent of respondents of the countries favored sending economic aid to Ukraine.
The respondents from the U.S. and Canada believe that their governments should send troops to defend a NATO state in case it gets attacked by Putin, 56 and 53 percent respectively. Fewer than 50 percent of respondents in the U.K., Poland, Spain, France and Italy agreed, while 58 percent of German respondents said their country shouldn’t use military force in such a scenario.