Ukraine’s interim government has appealed for U.S. military aid, including arms, ammunition and intelligence support, according to senior U.S. officials. But the Obama administration has agreed to send only military rations for now, wary of inflaming tensions with Russia, the WSJ reports.
The U.S. decision reflects the Pentagon’s reluctance to be seen as directly supporting Ukraine’s beleaguered armed forces during the standoff with Russia, which has seized the Ukrainian region of Crimea.
The risk of escalation was underscored by Russia’s move on Thursday to conduct another military exercise near Ukraine. The Kremlin also confirmed it has sent six Sukhoi fighter jets and three transport planes to another former Soviet republic, Belarus, for joint patrols.
Belarusian officials said the move came in response to increased air patrols in the region by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization amid the Ukraine crisis.
Amid such shows of force, U.S. officials acknowledge the Obama administration faces a difficult balancing act. It wants to show support for Ukraine’s interim leaders without further antagonizing an unpredictable Moscow or inadvertently emboldening the Ukrainian military to take steps that could spark violence.
“It’s not a forever ‘no,’ it’s a ‘no for now,'” a senior U.S. official said of Ukraine’s request for lethal military support.