December 21, 2014
US Congress Republicans want small arms sent to help Ukraine
Republicans in the US Congress have urged the Obama administration to dispatch small weapons and other military equipment to aid Ukraine as Russian troops amassed at that country's eastern border.
"You can do non-combatant military aid in a way that allows (Ukrainians) to defend themselves," House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers said during an interview on NBC's "Meet the Press."
Besides small weapons, Rogers urged providing medical supplies, radio equipment and unspecified "defensive posture weapons systems."
The Michigan Republican was careful to note, however, that he does not support using American troops to confront Russia, which has annexed Crimea from Ukraine.
Russia's action prompted US President Barack Obama last week to impose economic sanctions which were largely tailored to hit Russian President Vladimir Putin's inner circle without prompting a backlash from Moscow against US businesses.
Since then, NATO officials warned that Russia had moved a large military force to Ukraine's eastern border, raising fears that it could build on its success in Crimea by expanding further into Ukraine.
Deputy national security adviser Tony Blinken, interviewed on CNN, said the Obama administration was reviewing every request Ukraine is making for help.
He added, "When it comes to military assistance, we're looking at it." But he questioned how effective that might be.
"The facts are these: Even if assistance were to go to Ukraine, that is very unlikely to change Russia's calculus or prevent an invasion."
Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois, the second-ranking senior Democrat in the Senate, told CBS's "Face the Nation" that shipping small arms to Ukraine should not be ruled out.
"Keep it on the table," Durbin said, and "for the time being, help Ukraine's army get on its feet" by providing materials ranging from fuel and tires to sleeping bags and meals for a force that he said was "devastated" by a recently toppled Ukrainian regime.
Durbin and a handful of other senators traveled in Ukraine last week.