Providing Ukraine With Arms Is a Matter of World Security

A soldier with a Javelin anti-tank missile Source: http://nationalinterest.org

Marco Levytsky, NP-UN.

On March 1 the United States Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) issued a statement confirming that the State Department has agreed to sell Ukraine 210 Javelin Missiles and 37 Javelin Command Launch Units (CLUs) for an estimated cost of US$47 million.

“This proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by improving the security of Ukraine. The Javelin system will help Ukraine build its long-term defense capacity to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity in order to meet its national defense requirements. Ukraine will have no difficulty absorbing this system into its armed forces,” stated the DSCA in its release.

The FGM-148 Javelin is a portable anti-tank missile which uses an automatic infrared guidance that allows the user to seek cover immediately after launch. Its effectiveness is due both to the its range of up to 4 kilometres and the ability to approach the target from above.

At the outset of the war with Russia and Russian-backed terrorists, Ukraine possessed only Soviet-era anti-tank missiles, which were no match for the latest generation of Russian tanks. Since then Ukraine has begun developing a new generation of missiles like the Corsars and Stugna-P’s which cost a lot less than the Javelins, and have been proven effective against the older Russian T-64 and T-72 tanks, but have several shortcomings as compared to Javelins.

In an Op-ed piece which was carried in two parts in the previous two issues of New Pathway – Ukrainian News, the authors, Prof. Lubomyr Luciuk, who teaches political geography at The Royal Military College of Canada, and Ihor Kozak, a defence and security consultant, noted this will change the military balance in the Donbas, because the Javelin is the U.S. military’s tank-killer missile that Russia fears most.

They quoted Dmytro Tymchuk, a Ukrainian parliamentarian and military expert, who observed bluntly: “If every Rostov-Buryat schmuck realizes that you can’t just go out in your T-72 tank deployed from the Urals to shoot with impunity at the positions of the (Ukrainian) Armed Forces, these (Minsk) agreements … now in a state of permanent coma might … start working.”

UNIAN has quoted a Ukrainian parliamentarian as saying both Canada and the European Union will soon follow the U.S lead and provide lethal defensive weapons to Ukraine. However, as this issue of New Pathway – Ukrainian News went to press, we had not been able to get confirmation of this from either the Defense Ministry or Global Affairs Canada.

Nevertheless, it should be noted that the House of Commons Standing Committee of National Defence has specifically called for Canada to provide defensive lethal weapons for Ukraine. It has also been the position of both the former Conservative and current Liberal governments that Canada should act in concert with its allies and now that the U.S. has agreed to provide such weapons, we must now follow the lead of our closest neighbour and ally to help Ukrainians defend their land and their freedom against rapacious Russian aggression.

There is a school of thought, primarily in the New Democratic Party, that the provision of lethal arms should not be high among Canada’s priorities in assistance for Ukraine. This is based upon the assumption that there is no military solution to this conflict because Russia has more military power than Ukraine and the EU combined.

That may be true, but history has shown that even superpowers can be defeated by a militarily weaker nation, if that nation is defending its national sovereignty. Two examples that stand out in recent history are the Vietnam war and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. While Vietnam is often cited as an example of communist aggression, it did start out as a national revolution against French colonial rule, and it was the inability of the United States and its South Vietnamese allies to win the hearts and minds of the people that led to defeat. Afghanistan is a much better example, however, as it was a direct invasion of a sovereign foreign state by the Russian Federation’s predecessor state the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. What’s more, the USSR then, was a dictatorship like Putin’s Russia is today, and unlike the democratic United States where public opinion eventually turned against the war. Therefore, even powerful dictatorships can be defeated if the people are fighting for their land. And, in the case of Afghanistan, what proved to be a deciding factor was the provision of arms to the resistance forces by the United States.

There may be a legitimate concern among western nations insofar as the provision of weapons to Ukraine is concerned, that such weapons may not actually get into the hands of the soldiers fighting on the battlefield, but get stolen by corrupt officials and high-ranking officers. That is a most legitimate concern in view of the endemic corruption that exists in post-Soviet Ukraine, but this could be countered by enforcing the most stringent controls over their delivery to ensure such pilfering cannot occur.

While a diplomatic solution may be the ultimate goal to end this conflict, there can be no acceptable diplomatic solution as long as Russia maintains a superior military position. And even though, Putin’s imperialist aggression resonates with a nation that is willing to accept such foreign adventurism at the expense of their economic well-being and human rights, even Russians can come to their senses at some point in time. And there is increasing evidence that the younger generation of Russians is becoming disenchanted with Putin’s dictatorship, kleptocracy and imperialist aggression.

But as long as Putin remains in power, he stands as the biggest threat to world peace and security. This message was delivered in no uncertain terms by the Crocodile of the Kremlin himself during his March 1 State of the Nation address in which he boasted that Russia has developed an “unstoppable” nuclear cruise missile which cannot be intercepted by any antimissile system on earth.

The one nation which is standing up with force to Putin’s aggression right now is Ukraine. Therefore, the defense of Ukraine is not a matter that affects Ukraine alone. It is a matter that affects the security of the entire world.