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Friday, August 4, 2017

The Next Escalation: Pentagon Offers to Arm Ukraine

[ Ed. note – A few days ago I put up a post reporting on Russia’s response to the sanctions bill passed by Congress. That response included closing off access to certain US embassy facilities in Russia and also forcing the US to cut its embassy staff. The cutback, as it turns out, is quite large, and Russia is demanding that it be completed by September 1.
It is assumed that the US will mount a “tit-for-tat” response in some manner. The question, of course, is what will that response be? This is the subject of the article below, originally posted at Zero Hedge and reposted at Russia Insider. The thesis is that the US will ship lethal weapons to Ukraine for use against the pro-Russian breakaway territories in the country’s east. ]
By Tyler Durden
When we reported yesterday about Putin’s surprisingly harsh response to last week’s House legislation to launch new sanctions against Russia, which also binds Trump from unilaterally removing sanctions without getting Congressional approval, we concluded that “now we await the US re-retaliation in what is once again the same tit-for-tat escalation that marked the latter years of the Obama regime, as the US Military Industrial Complex breathes out a sigh of relief that for all the posturing by Trump, things between Russia and the US are back on autopilot.
We didn’t have long to wait.
The WSJ reports that, in what appears to be the next gambit by the U.S. Military-Industrial Complex (or “deep state” for those so inclined) to force Trump to “prove” that he did not, in fact, collude or have any ties with Russia or Vladimir Putin, Pentagon and State Department officials have devised plans to hit Russia where it hurts the most, and supply Ukraine with antitank missiles and other weaponry, and are now seeking White House approval at a time when ties between Moscow and Washington are as bad as during any point under the Obama administration.
American military officials and diplomats say the arms, which they characterized as defensive, are meant to deter aggressive actions by Moscow, which the U.S. and others say has provided tanks and other sophisticated armaments as well as military advisers to rebels fighting the Kiev government.
So one attempt at “why now”, is because with Trump reeling, and having already caved on the latest Congressional anti-Russia bill, why not push the president to escalate the Russia conflict to a point where not even his predecessor dared to take it. For now, Trump is unaware of the plan:
A senior administration official said there has been no decision on the armaments proposal and it wasn’t discussed at a high-level White House meeting on Russia last week. The official said President Donald Trump hasn’t been briefed on the plan and his position isn’t known.
Of course, that will change once the president, now with a veteran general by his side as new Chief of Staff reads the WSJ report, and starts debating whether it is worth to further deteriorate Russian relations if it means getting Mueller of his back, by showing just how committed Trump is to “containing Russian aggression.”
Meanwhile, setting the stage for the escalation, a Pentagon spokeswoman, Lt. Col. Michelle L. Baldanza, said the U.S. has not “ruled out the option” of providing “lethal defensive weapons to Ukraine.” U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis has endorsed the plan, according to U.S. officials quoted by the WSJ.

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