Taking it up an escalatory notch: US mulls sending anti-ship missiles to Zelensky, responsiblestatecraft.org

Kelley Beaucar Vlahos, Editorial Director of Responsible Statecraft and Senior Advisor at the Quincy Institute

It would be really difficult to believe that the United States is not in a proxy war with Russia if reports that it plans to send anti-ship missiles to Ukraine are true.

In fact, the State Department did not exactly deny this exclusive report from Reuters that Washington was readying to share the weapons capability to help “defeat Russia’s naval blockade…amid concerns more powerful weapons that could sink Russian warships would intensify the conflict.”

“As the conflict is changing, so too is our military assistance to deliver the critical capabilities Ukraine needs for today’s fight as Russia’s forces engage in a renewed offensive in eastern Ukraine,” a State spokesperson said on Friday.

The only thing that is being directly denied are assertions by the Ukrainian Ministry of Internal Affairs adviser, who tweeted Friday that “the US is preparing a plan to destroy the [Russian] Black Sea Fleet. The effective work of the Ukrainians on [Russian] warships convinced [the US] to prepare a plan to unblock the [Ukrainian] ports. Deliveries of powerful anti-ship weapons are being discussed.”

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby, asked about this at the briefing Friday, was adamant: “I can tell you definitively that that’s not true.” This unfortunately has the splitting hairs quality of the denial/non denial a couple of weeks ago when the Pentagon confirmed reports it was supplying targeting intelligence to the Ukrainian military but not specifically to sink Russian ships or kill its generals.

When asked whether the U.S. would be sending those anti-ship missiles, Kirby was more ambiguous:

We are — we are talking to the Ukrainians every day, as you know in fact, today’s another one of those days when the Secretary is going to talk to Minister Reznikoff about — we talked to them about their needs and our capabilities. And when we have decisions, we come right out here and we issue a press release and we tell you about that. So, I’m not going to get ahead of decisions that haven’t been made. We’re doing the best we can to meet their — their capabilities in as near real-time as we can. […]

Pushing forward with these more advanced weapons increases the odds of a wider war dragging NATO into the fray, and worse, nuclear conflict. If the U.S. has not yet decided to take this up a notch with anti-ship missiles, officials may want to consult more temperate voices before it reaches the point of no return. Läs artikel