US could send 'decisive edge' weapons to Ukraine, western officials say

Officials disclose debate in Washington over whether to provide Kyiv with arsenal that would swiftly end Russia conflict

epa06303259 A Patriot missile is fired at a shooting range in Daecheon, South Chungcheong Province, South Korea, 02 November 2017.  EPA/YONHAP SOUTH KOREA OUT
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Plans to send Ukraine weapons that will guarantee Kyiv has a “decisive edge” over Russia are being considered at senior levels in the US, western officials have disclosed.

There is a growing debate over whether to arm Kyiv with advanced equipment to bring the war to a swift conclusion in order to ensure European unity and end the suffering of the Ukrainian people.

It is understood that US plans to send Patriot air defence batteries are well advanced but it has also been suggested that Nato might provide modern tanks, armoured vehicles and even fighter jets to help tip the scales against Moscow.

“There are Americans in Congress and in the administration interested to look at the trajectory of the conflict and work out what it would take to give Ukraine a decisive edge without crossing over into an offensive against Russia,” the officials said.

Providing the right arms without provoking a wider conflict was a “tricky question but it's one that people are starting to look at because the alternative is to let things grind on as they are and that's not attractive either”.

The discussion has also involved US officials speaking to key Nato allies but as the planning has not yet concluded, the official told a media briefing.

There was also hints of supplies of long-range weaponry that would enable the Ukrainians “to pre-empt some of what the Russians might do”, the officials said.

“All these things are under consideration,” the official added.

Consideration would be given to “anything short of attacks on Russian soil”, which could provoke a wider war with Nato.

US President Joe Biden at the White House on Tuesday. His administration is understood to be considering sending more modern weapons to Ukraine. AFP

Asked by The National if this would involve modern Nato tanks, fighter jets and armoured vehicles that would be pivotal in a winter offensive, the officials responded that it was part of an “ongoing conversation” with the Ukrainians.

“We haven't heard fighters mentioned for a while but if the trajectory keeps going in the way it is, we think there'll be a conversation about that,” an official said. “A lot of it does depend on the nature of the Russian attacks and where the Ukrainians most want to put their effort.”

There are concerns in both Washington and London that the unity shown by Europe could waver if the war were to become protracted with the spike in energy prices and inflation harming economies.

Analysts argue that with more advanced equipment, the Ukrainians could more swiftly eject the Russians from their country.

“There are things that can be done to get the Ukrainians into a better position faster rather than continue, as we are at the moment, where things will take very long time and get drawn out,” the officials said.

They added that continued conflict would mean people would be without “water, heating and power” for much longer.

Updated: December 14, 2022, 7:23 PM