Do not arm Ukraine

Sending guns to Kyiv will only escalate the conflict

The World Today Published 1 April 2015 Updated 4 January 2021 4 minute READ

Elizabeth Pond

Berlin-based journalist and the author of several books on Germany, Europe, and the Balkans

Hawks in Washington are arguing that the West should deliver lethal defensive weapons to the Ukrainian armed forces. At a moment of political uncertainty in Moscow, their view is that the NATO alliance should show the Kremlin it is not feckless when faced with Vladimir Putin’s aggression.

Such a policy would certainly make the congressional Rambos feel good. But flooding Ukraine with advanced weapons which its troops have not been trained to use would be dangerous and almost certainly lead to an escalation that would play to Russia’s local military superiority while failing to bolster Ukraine’s capabilities.

There are three reasons for this. First, sending lethal weapons to Ukraine could sleepwalk the world into its first nuclear war, at a time when the rules of restraint worked out by the superpowers in the original Cold War have expired.

Subscribe to read all issues

Articles from the current issue are free to read by all, the archive is exclusive to magazine subscribers and our members. Subscribe or become a member to view articles from the archive.