On Monday Obama said the United States is considering sending armaments and lethal aid to the regime in Ukraine.
Obama had previously opposed sending arms.
“It is true that if in fact diplomacy fails, what I’ve asked my team to do is look at all options,” Obama said. “The possibility of lethal defensive weapons is one of those options that’s being examined.”
Obama made this comment as German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande push a peace plan to resolve the crisis. Merkel and Hollande met with Putin and Ukrainian leaders last week and announced a summit to be held in Minsk on Wednesday.
As Obama vacillates and a bipartisan group in Congress demand the U.S. arm the Kiev regime under the terms of the Budapest Memorandum, the Russians warn military aid to Ukraine will result in “all-out-war.”
Alexei Pushkov, a leading Russian MP and an ally of President Vladimir Putin, told the European Parliament the delivery of arms to Ukraine is the first step in what will become larger participation in the conflict by the United States. He said sending armaments was one of the first steps in U.S. involvement in Vietnam.
“First they sent weapons, then they sent military advisers, then troops to protect military advisers, then troops to fight the Vietnamese.”
He warned the United States against following “an extremely dangerous path” and characterized U.S. Republican Senator John McCain as “trigger-happy.”
Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Tuesday the plan to arm the regime in Kiev is “aimed at destabilizing the situation in Ukraine.”
Evgeny Buzhinsky, a military expert at the Moscow-based PIR Center and a former lieutenant general in the Russian Army, told The Moscow Times “Russia would reasonably consider the U.S. to be a direct participant in the conflict” if it sends arms and will act accordingly.
Buzhinsky added that Russia would not only up the stakes in eastern Ukraine, but will “also respond asymmetrically against Washington or its allies on other fronts.”
“Moscow will not just sit by calmly and see what happens, it will counteract,” said Maxim Shepovalenko, an analyst at the Moscow-based Center for the Analysis of Strategy and Technology. “It would become tit-for-tat.”
Additionally, the Russians would consider U.S. arms shipments to Ukraine a violation of international law.
“If the U.S., following a request from the Ukrainian government, starts supplying weapons to Kiev, it will violate a number of international documents,” said Vitaly Churkin, Russia’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations. “The U.S. has repeatedly chosen a graded approach to rules of international law.”
Churkin says the Russian response depends on the result of the Minsk summit on Wednesday.
“We see major pressure on the issue in the United States, especially in Congress. Angela Merkel is discouraging them from doing this. But this scenario will be unfolding depending on results of the Minsk talks,” he said.