Giving arms to Ukraine 'isn't a strategy,' general says

Giving arms to Ukraine 'isn't a strategy,' general says
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The U.S. Army’s top commander in Europe is cautioning against providing weapons to Ukraine’s military to fight off Russia-backed separatists.

“Providing weapons is not a strategy,” U.S. Army Europe Commander Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges said Tuesday during a Defense Writers Group breakfast. “I think the focus on lethal versus non-lethal aid is the wrong argument to have.” 

Instead, Western leaders should be focused on the “desired end state” in the region.


“There are great arguments for giving weapons to them to help raise the cost for the Russians. I think that is a valid argument. But saying that’s a valid argument is different from saying that this ought to be the policy,” Hodges said. 

“If you give weapons, then what?” he asked, noting that collateral damage inside the former Soviet satellite state could then be traced back to Washington. 

Lawmakers in both chambers have repeatedly called on President Obama to provide millions in arms to Kiev's forces following Russia’s annexation of the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea last year.

An increasing number of high-ranking administration officials have publicly stated that the president should give weapons to Ukraine.

“I think we should absolutely consider providing lethal aid,” Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey told a panel of House members earlier this month.

Others, including Defense Secretary Ashton Carter and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, have also endorsed the idea.

Hodges admitted that Dempsey is “in conversations I’m never in” but that he personally believes “it’s more important that we get to the strategy” that resolves the security crisis, preserves the NATO alliance and brings Russia back into the international community.