Ex-US Ambassador: Military Aid for Ukraine Should Be on Table

Monday, 21 Jul 2014 07:26 PM

By Courtney Coren

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The recent downing of a Malaysia Airlines jetliner over Ukraine by separatists with a ground-to-air missile that the U.S. thinks was given to the group by the Russian government may require more sanctions against Russia as well as military assistance for Ukraine, says Roman Popadiuk, former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine. 

"Meaningful discussions can take place in eastern Ukraine, but if that does not work it's very incumbent on the United States to take the more forthright role, and I mean on two levels," Popadiuk told John Bachman and Morgan Thompson on "America's Forum" on Newsmax TV on Monday.

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The former ambassador in the George H.W. Bush administration said that up until the crash of the Malaysia Airlines jet the United States was doing what it could to put pressure on Russia to back off on the assistance it was giving to the Russian separatist group in eastern Ukraine, but that the shoot-down may have created "an opportunity here to maybe move the process forward a little bit."

First, Popadiuk says, the United States should call for another cease-fire along with "a sealing off of the Russian-Ukraine border, and that there has to be international monitors positioned along the border to gauge whether or not there are personnel and military equipment being brought in from Russia into Ukraine."

If that doesn't work, he says, the U.S. should up the ante.

"Number one is an increased use of sanctions, broader sanctions, and at the same time it's time for us to revisit the possibility of giving military assistance to the Ukrainians," he explained.

Popadiuk explained that one of the reasons the Russians "introduced heavy equipment" is that the Ukrainian military has been slowly "overcoming" the separatists.

"That heavy equipment has to be stopped from coming into Ukraine, and the Ukrainians will be able to deal with the issue itself on the ground," he added.

However, the former ambassador says that "it's more important to solve issues peacefully rather than through military means."

In order to do this, he recommends that "the president has to ally himself with the Europeans in order to push a much stronger, diplomatic solution along the lines I've just outlined."

When it comes to additional sanctions, Popadiuk says it's important that they be imposed "very rapidly," unlike how they've been imposed in the past.

He recommends targeting "the financial area of Russia as well as the energy sectors."

"Those are two very, very sensitive areas for Russia in terms of their economy, and this is something that will have very, very strong ramifications throughout the whole Russian economy," the former ambassador added.

The current sanctions against Russia, which were put into place Tuesday, are aimed at the financial institutions and the defense sector. 

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