Ukraine Asks for Military Aid, Obama Offers MREs
Let them eat MREs
When Syria asked Russia for aid, they didn't get MREs. That's why being an ally of Russia makes more sense these days than being an ally of America.
And while the United States is under no obligation to help arm Ukraine, keeping Russia from pushing deeper into Ukraine is more likely to prevent a shooting war now or down the road. The basic lesson of WW2 is that either aggressor states like Russia/Germany get roadblocked by empowering the small nations they want to conquer or eventually the conflict will drag the big nations in.
In August 2005, just seven months after his swearing-in, Obama traveled to Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine with then-Indiana Republican Senator Dick Lugar, touring a conventional weapons site.
The two met in Kiev with President Victor Yushchenko, making the case that an existing Cooperative Threat Reduction Program covering the destruction of nuclear weapons should be expanded to include artillery, small arms, anti-aircraft weapons, and conventional ammunition of all kinds.
After a stopover in London, the senators returned to Washington and declared that the U.S. should devote funds to speed up the destruction of more than 400,000 small arms, 1,000 anti-aircraft missiles, and more than 15,000 tons of ammunition.
The things Ukraine is asking for are not that unreasonable. The United States provided some of them to the Libyan rebels and probably the Syrian opposition as well. We won't even go into how much firepower Obama and Kerry were willing to hand over to the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood.
Ukraine's interim government has asked Washington to provide its military forces with arms, ammunition and intelligence support, senior U.S. officials said, but the U.S. has balked at providing lethal aid for now, wary of inflaming tensions with Russia.
The U.S. response reflects the Pentagon's reluctance to be seen as directly supporting the Ukrainian military during the country's standoff with Russian forces, which have seized the Ukrainian region of Crimea. The potential risks were underscored by Russia's move Thursday to conduct another military exercise near Ukraine.
Washington wants to show its support for the country's interim leaders without further antagonizing an unpredictable Moscow or inadvertently emboldening the Ukrainian military to take steps that could spark a more direct conflict.
"It's not a forever 'no,' it's a 'no for now,' " a senior U.S. official said.
In a detailed request for U.S. military assistance, the Ukrainian government asked the Pentagon to provide arms and ammunition, communications gear, intelligence support, aviation fuel and night-vision goggles, along with other items, according to officials briefed on the emergency Ukrainian appeal.
The Pentagon has agreed for now to only provide the Ukrainians with supplies of U.S. military rations known as "Meals Ready to Eat," or MREs, officials said. MREs were part of the Ukrainian request. The MREs could start shipping within days, officials said.
So to summarize, Obama would like to support the Ukrainian government confronting an invasion in some way other than empowering their military to resist further invasions.
Soft power. It really works.