Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko was careful not to emphasize that the eastern Ukraine war has been in a state of ceasefire for two weeks, or that he had already pushed a measure through parliament on autonomy that was likely to effectively end the rebellion.
Instead, addressing US Congress today, the Ukrainian president pushed for a massive provision of US weapons to fight a war against Russia, insisting that the future of NATO depends on Ukraine defeating Russia.
The US is providing “non-lethal” aid to this point to Ukraine, though Poroshenko complained that “one cannot win a war with blankets” and wants the US to step up arms shipments as well.
Poroshenko’s push for war with Russia appears to settle on the question of the Crimean Peninsula, which seceded from Ukraine after the ouster of the Yanukovych government by protesters, and gained accession into the Russian Federation shortly thereafter.
The protesters’ ouster of the Yanukovych government, and the interim government’s crackdown on ethnic Russians, also sparked the unrest in eastern Ukraine which led to the rebellion, though the eventual agreement to roll back the ban on Russian language and grant the region increased autonomy appears to have resolved that.
Poroshenko, and indeed other officials in the new Ukrainian government, have wildly varied their rhetoric in recent days, talking up peace and concessions when addressing eastern Ukraine, promising a great war to wipe them out when talking to hawkish ultranationalists in the west, and presenting a nigh-apocalyptic vision of a war on Russia when addressing potential donors.
The reality is that Ukraine’s poorly paid, poorly trained military, with its arsenal of the best arms the Soviet Union had to offer in the 1960s, is simply not prepared to fight its much larger neighbor, Russia, at any rate, and even a wholesale provision of modern arms by the US isn’t going to magically transform Ukraine’s ground forces into a real threat to Russia, either in Crimea or on the eastern border.