US Officials See Arming Ukraine as Chance to ‘Pressure’ Russia

Trump Opposed Arms Shipments During Campaign, But Fears Looking 'Weak'

During the presidential campaign, Donald Trump was adamantly opposed to the idea of arming Ukraine, seeing it as contrary to a potential diplomatic rapprochement with Russia. As with a lot of candidate Trump’s positions, President Trump’s position seems to be shifting.

Ukraine’s Petro Poroshenko and Trump

The possibility of arming Ukraine is now the topic of intense debate within the cabinet, with proponents arguing that such arms would be a great way to increasing the pressure on Russia after a flurry of anti-Russia sanctions.

Such a move is potentially risky, because Ukraine is in the midst of a shaky ceasefire with eastern rebels, a ceasefire the US hasn’t publicly endorsed. The armament of one side could be seen as overtly trying to undermine the ceasefire, and encouraging Ukraine to attack the rebels.

Practical reasons not to make such a move might not matter, however, as President Trump is seen to be under serious pressure to accept any serious plan that would be anti-Russia, as part of an ongoing effort to escape the “pro-Russia” label.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of