Germany, France, and Most US Experts Against Arming Ukraine

With our nation edging closer to sending lethal aid to Ukraine, it would be well to consider why Angela Merkel, François Hollande, and two-thirds of the US experts surveyed by Foreign Affairs magazine think that’s a mistake.

Two days ago, Foreign Affairs published a poll of 27 US experts on international relations who were asked to respond to the statement, “The United States should provide whatever military aid the Ukrainian government needs to defend itself against Russian-supported rebel attacks.” Nine of the 27 – exactly one-third – agreed with the statement, and four of those did so “strongly.” The other two-thirds of the IR experts disagreed, 10 of them “strongly.” See the article for their reasoning.

And, earlier this month, Reuters reported that Germany and France also had strong reservations about adding fuel to the Ukrainian fire by giving weapons to the Ukrainian government (emphasis added):

 Germany’s Angela Merkel said on Saturday that sending arms to help Ukraine fight pro-Russian separatists would not solve the crisis there, drawing sharp rebukes from U.S. politicians who accused Berlin of turning its back on an ally in distress.

The heated exchanges at a security conference in Munich pointed to cracks in the transatlantic consensus on how to confront Russian President Vladimir Putin over a deepening conflict in eastern Ukraine that has killed more than 5,000. …

[French President François] Hollande, speaking to reporters in the city of Tulle in central France, cast the talks with Putin as a last-ditch effort to avert full-blown conflict. The French leader, Merkel, Poroshenko and Putin are due to hold a call on Sunday, before the chancellor travels to Washington.

“If we don’t manage to find not just a compromise but a lasting peace agreement, we know perfectly well what the scenario will be. It has a name, it’s called war,” Hollande said.

Having studied the Ukrainian crisis in detail, I agree with Merkel, Hollande, and the 18 IR experts who are against arming Ukraine. That’s not because Ukraine doesn’t deserve our support. It does. But Putin is no more likely to allow Ukraine to get closer to NATO than Reagan was to allow a socialist government in Nicaragua during the 1980s. We need to provide support that will help stop the fighting, not prolong and intensify it.

If you agree that ideas like this need a wider audience, please reach out to your contacts via email, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other means. Thanks!

Martin Hellman

Many earlier posts on this blog are related to this and can be found by searching on Ukraine. Some recent ones include:

Ronald Reagan’s Ambassador to Moscow characterizing US policy toward Russia as “autistic.”

Gorbachev Fears Cold War Could Turn Hot

Strategic Empathy: A Better Strategy in Ukraine and Marriage

About Martin Hellman

I am a professor at Stanford University, best known for my invention of public key cryptography -- the technology that protects the secure part of the Internet, such as electronic banking. But, since 1982, my primary interest has been how fallible human beings can survive possessing nuclear weapons, where even one mistake could be catastrophic. My latest project is a book, co-written with my wife Dorothie, with the audacious subtitle "Creating True Love at Home & Peace on the Planet." It's on Amazon and a free PDF can be downloaded from its website:
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