Clapper: Give Ukraine ‘Lethal Defensive Weapons’
Top intel official says Russian units key to reversing Ukraine's battlefield gains.
The U.S. government’s senior intelligence official said that he believes the Obama administration should give Kiev “lethal defensive weapons” for its struggle against the Russian-backed separatists battling the country’s military in eastern Ukraine
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told the Council on Foreign Relations in New York that he had argued for giving the Ukrainians the weapons to “bolster their resolve” and convince them “that we’re with them.” But he stressed that his position was not U.S. government policy – at least, not yet. “This is just me, Jimmy Clapper, speaking,” he said. “This is something that’s in deliberation right now among the foreign policy community.”
When the U.S. government decides one way or the other, “it won’t be an intel call,” he added. Senior Obama administration officials have said that they’re considering providing arms but have yet to make a final decision.
In the meantime, Clapper said, “the Russians are doing more than providing arms” to the pro-Russian rebels in eastern part of the country. He credited Russian military forces with reversing the battlefield advances made by the Ukrainian military last summer, a renewed burst of fighting that has helped unravel a succession of recent European-brokered cease-fires between the two sides.