Opinion: No simple solutions | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 03.02.2015
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Opinion: No simple solutions

The US is debating whether Washington should supply Ukraine with weapons to help Kyiv fight the separatists. But this would only trigger an arms race in Russia, says DW's Miodrag Soric.

The anxiety is growing. The anxiety to put an end to the bitter war in eastern Ukraine. To no avail. The Americans have negotiated with Russian President Vladimir Putin. With no results. Together with the Europeans they have imposed economic sanctions on Moscow, which have brought about billions in losses for the Russian economy. But the head of the Kremlin is by no means changing his aggressive Ukraine policy. In recent months, the pro-Russian rebels have managed to gain territory.

“This cannot go on any longer,” is how Washington feels about this. Simple solutions that make the US look strong and have a quick impact in Ukraine are needed. This is an opportunity for the interventionists. They are demanding that modern weapons be delivered to the Ukraine. Their arguments suggest that the weapons could actually drive back the Russian troops quickly.

They are putting President Obama under pressure. But he is hesitating. And because of that, he is being called a coward by his political opponents. Which is nonsense because this American president is trying to learn from the lessons of the past.

Threat of an arms race

Miodrag Soric Studio Washington

DW's Miodrag Soric

One lesson is: Not every conflict can be solved by the military. If the Americans supply the Ukrainians with modern weapons, then President Putin will also improve his fighters' equipment. An arms race would ensue; above all, to the benefit of the arms manufacturers.

In a war like this, more weapons mean more violence.

No one could seriously want this. For this reason, many Europeans - in particular, German Chancellor Angela Merkel - are against more arms deliveries.

Another lesson is: Whoever delivers arms is also responsible for what happens to them. What if US tanks do not remain with the actual Ukrainian army, but instead end up in the hands of paramilitary forces? Amnesty International has already proved that the Ukrainian militia have frequently violated human rights. Hundreds of people have died this way. So, American arms deliveries can only be justified if Kyiv's government can guarantee that the weapons do not fall into the wrong hands.

Obama will seek advice before he approves further arms deliveries: From his secretary of state, who is flying to Kyiv on Thursday, or from the German Chancellor, who he is welcoming to Wahington this coming week. She, too, probably will not have a quick solution either.

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