For nearly a year now, the U.S. has spurned calls to provide arms to Ukraine in its increasingly bloody conflict with Russian-backed separatists.

But now, officials in the White House are musing openly about sending “lethal aid” to Ukraine, which some military analysts believe is the only way to deal with what they see as belligerence from Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Arming Ukraine “would be a very significant escalation, but it’s a necessary one,” says Stephen Blank, senior fellow with the American Foreign Policy Council in Washington, D.C., who calls Russia’s actions in Ukraine “the greatest threat to international security that we have today.”

But there’s a strong possibility that by arming Ukraine, the U.S. could spur Russia to unpredictable action, says John Mearsheimer, co-director of the Program on International Security Policy at the University of Chicago.

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