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The Trouble With Arming Ukraine

Sending Lethal Weapons Would Backfire

Ukrainian forces outside Artemivsk, Ukraine, June 2015. Oleksandr Klymenko / REUTERS

“It’s long past time for the United States to provide Ukraine the lethal defensive assistance it needs to deter and defend against further Russian aggression,” said Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) in August—and not for the first time. McCain is arguably the most influential person in Congress on national security matters, so his words carry weight. But his is hardly a lone voice. Others, including John Herbst, who was U.S. ambassador to Ukraine from mid-2003 to mid-2006, and Alexander Vershbow, an experienced American diplomat and deputy general secretary of NATO from early 2012 until October 2016, agree with McCain. So do former President Bill Clinton’s deputy secretary of state, Strobe Talbott, and a cluster of diplomatic and national security luminaries, who came out of the gate early on this issue in a report released in 2015.

The efforts of these individuals haven’t been in vain. U.S. President Donald

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