Tags: Ukraine | saakashvili | obama | ukraine | arms

Saakashvili Sure Obama Will Arm Ukraine After Lobbying

Monday, 16 March 2015 11:14 AM

Ex-Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili said his efforts to persuade the U.S. administration to arm Ukraine are bearing fruit as cross-party pressure intensifies on President Barack Obama.

“I believe the U.S. will supply the weapons,” Saakashvili, who’s working as an adviser to Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, said in an interview in Kiev. “What gives me hope is the fact that the opinion of U.S. society and the political elite is firm on this idea. Almost everyone in Congress as well as in the Senate supports it, and the Pentagon and intelligence community want it.”

The issue of arming Ukraine hasn’t gone away amid a shaky truce in the nation’s border regions with Russia, which denies stoking a yearlong insurgency there. U.S. lawmakers from both parties spoke out last week in favor of lethal aid to Ukraine. Saakashvili, who struck an alliance for his Black Sea country with the U.S. and sought NATO membership, provoking a 2008 war with Russia, has been lobbying lawmakers in Washington.

Senator Ron Johnson, the Wisconsin Republican who heads the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Europe, said there was “no question” among Republicans and Democrats on the panel that the U.S. should do more.

“I want to begin by sharing the frustration” on the committee “about the slowness with which we’re providing assistance to Ukraine,” Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire said.

Urgent Need

Saakashvili complained in 2008 of an “inadequate” response by the U.S. and its allies to Georgia’s five-day conflict with Russia, which he accused of provoking hostilities by amassing troops nearby. In Ukraine, he predicts the collapse of a peace accord brokered last month by Germany and France, and a renewed offensive by pro-Russian rebels.

“Russia will hit the south of Ukraine soon and the weapons must be given soon as there is no peace agreement,” said Saakashvili, whose relationship with Russia has never recovered. He left office in 2013 and is wanted in Georgia on charges he says are driven by the nation’s new leaders.

While Obama and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry have been willing to give the cease-fire struck Feb. 12 in the Belarusian capital of Minsk a chance, members of Congress and military officials in the U.S. have stepped up demands to bolster support for Ukraine with “lethal defensive weapons.”

‘Bloody, Short’

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier visited Washington last week in an effort to counter the growing U.S. pressure to ship weapons to Ukraine, arguing that the cease-fire with Russian-backed rebels needs time to take hold.

While fighting in eastern Ukraine has subsided since the truce that took effect Feb. 15, there have been continual violations, with new casualties nearly every day. Poroshenko on Monday sought parliamentary support for an appeal to the United Nations on deploying an international peacekeeping force.

A U.S. weapons build-up in Ukraine would sabotage peace efforts and risk triggering renewed hostilities, opening the road for a deadly, decisive Russian victory, a multimillionaire supporter of President Vladimir Putin said.

“The Americans and Ukrainians are preparing for a new spark of confrontation,” Konstantin Malofeev, who was sanctioned by the U.S. and the European Union last year for his role in the pro-Russian insurgency in eastern Ukraine, said in an interview. “If the Americans, using the Kiev regime, try to drag Russia into war, it will be bloody, short and will of course end in Russian victory.”

Ukraine’s conflict triggered U.S. and EU measures that have helped push Russia’s economy to the brink of recession. The fighting has left at least 6,000 people dead, the United Nations estimates.


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Ex-Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili said his efforts to persuade the U.S. administration to arm Ukraine are bearing fruit as cross-party pressure intensifies on President Barack Obama. "I believe the U.S. will supply the weapons," Saakashvili, who's working as an...
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Monday, 16 March 2015 11:14 AM
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