U.S. aid to Ukraine should not be given thoughtlessly

Since Russia’s formal annexation of Crimea last March, the United States has had a tenuous stance on intervention in Ukraine. It has been easy to characterize Russian President Vladimir Putin as a bully in these proceedings, but there looms a greater worry: Could Ukraine become a symbol for international conflict in a new Cold War between the United States and Russia?

The ceasefire last week failed even as it was being signed, with fighting continuing in Eastern Ukraine. This region has generally separatist sympathies. Ukrainian troops are withdrawing from the city of Debaltseve, which has been under siege for weeks. Now Ukrainians are requesting U.N. Peacekeepers, while Russia maintains that U.N. involvement would violate the terms of the ceasefire.

Assisting the Ukrainian rebels has its own complications. Failures like Korea, Vietnam, and Iraq have shown that American intervention is often unwanted and unhelpful in international civil conflicts. More recently, the Arab Spring has shown just how complex and challenging international intervention may become. Dictators are easy targets, but establishing a new system of governance in a country without a history of democracy is much more difficult.

One of the most salient fears about assisting the Ukrainian rebels is weapons possession. President Barack Obama has said that the United States is considering “lethal defensive weapons” if diplomacy fails. Should the United States consider this strategy that has failed in other conflicts?

The Tartan agrees that a diplomatic solution is still ideal, but it seems to be increasingly unlikely. American aid to Ukraine is a calculated step that should be approached with caution.