WASHINGTON – Chairman of the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, has said that the U.S. should consider providing arms to help Ukraine in its fight against pro-Russian separatists.
“I think we should absolutely consider providing lethal aid in a NATO context,” said Dempsey at a meeting of the U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services Tuesday.
Dempsey joins many other voices in the American defense community who have counselled providing military support to the Ukrainian Government.
Other advocates include Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.
Dempsey argued that such action would be justified because the ultimate goal of Russian President Vladimir Putin is to break the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or NATO.
U.S. President Barack Obama is examining the possibility of extending aid to Ukraine to include weapons, something that some European partners fear would escalate military tensions.
Obama joined a videoconference Tuesday with British Prime Minister David Cameron, French President Francois Holland, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Italian President Mateo Renzi, and President of the European Council Donald Tusk.
The leaders discussed the situation in Ukraine and the possibility of providing weapons to the Ukrainian army, which has been overrun in the country’s east by separatists armed with Russian weapons including artillery and tanks.
The European leaders and Obama urged the conflicting parties to respect the ceasefire agreed on Feb. 12 in Minsk, Belarus.
They also warned the separatists, who have Russia’s backing, of escalating consequences should they breach the ceasefire.