The Biden administration is weighing new options, including providing more arms to Ukraine to resist a Russian occupation, to try to raise the costs for Russian President Vladimir Putin should he decide to invade the country.
The discussions, described by multiple sources familiar with them, reflect a sense of pessimism in the administration following last week’s diplomatic talks with Russian officials that yielded no breakthroughs and as Russia has continued to raise its force levels in the last few days.
In addition to considering how to help the Ukrainian military and government fend off an invasion, the US is evaluating options for bolstering Ukrainian forces’ ability to resist a potential Russian occupation. That includes potentially providing the Ukrainian Army with additional ammunition, mortars, Javelin anti-tank missiles, and anti-aircraft missile systems, which would likely come from NATO allies, a senior US official told CNN.
The news comes ahead of a face to face meeting between US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russia Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Geneva on Friday. A senior State Department official said the scheduled meeting “suggests that perhaps diplomacy is not dead.”
President Joe Biden has said that sending US combat troops to Ukraine to fight a war with Russia is off the table. But special operations forces already rotate in and out of the country to provide training to Ukrainian forces and a senior administration official said it is possible that other agencies could provide some support, likely the CIA. CIA Director Bill Burns traveled to Kyiv last week to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and discuss risks to Ukraine, a US official said.
“We are looking at a range of options to help defend Ukraine,” a senior administration official told CNN. This may include additional defensive arms sales, “advice,” and “helping Ukraine be able to stay in the fight against a larger, conventional Russian military presence.”
Read more at CNN.