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U.S. to Arm Ukraine? Is Senator McCain Correct?

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Co-authored by William Witenberg a contemporary artist focused on abstract painting

As demonstrations for succession appear in the Eastern Ukraine cities of Donetsk, Kharkiv and Luhansk the question of what Europe and America will do to prevent another Crimean type annexation presents itself.

John Kerry has said that Russian agents are responsible for instigating the demonstrations. He asserts that these demonstrations are part of a plan by Russia to create a pretext for invasion of Eastern Ukraine. The New York Times called for, "a package of extensive and strong sanctions ....including restricting the access of Russian banks and corporations to Western financial markets" ready to be imposed on Russia should it invade Ukraine.

At congressional hearings Tuesday Senator McCain asked John Kerry why America was not supplying Ukraine with self-defense weapons. The logical answer is: America is not and should not supply Ukraine with weapons, because to do so would only be like poking a bear with a stick. It would just raise the level of tensions. Only a constructive dialogue between Russia, Ukraine and the West will resolve the issues.

Russia is taking the view that Kiev is preparing to crack down violently on the demonstrators. With that in sight Russian Foreign Ministry calls for the "immediate cessation of any military preparations, which could lead to civil war." Europe and America view this statement as disturbingly twisted in light of the fact that Russia has 40,000 troops on the border of Ukraine.

Eastern Ukraine is not Crimea. Kiev has been able to retake buildings seized by the demonstrators and Russia does not have the support of 90 percent of the population that it had in Crimea. Moreover, Eastern Ukraine does not have the historical ties that Crimea had with Russia. An invasion into Eastern Ukraine would be met with serious resistance and while there is little doubt that Russian Army would prevail they would have to be an occupying force in a hostile area.

No one can pretend to read Putin's mind but one thing is a fact by now: economic sanctions so far have had little impact on Russian leader. Threatening more sanctions if Russia were to invade is not likely to prevent an invasion anymore than it did in Crimea.

The reason Putin will not invade eastern Ukraine is that the cost for him will be too high. This is true whether America sends arms to Ukraine or not. Not sending of arms to Ukraine is not "the logic appeasement " as Senator McCain put it, but instead the logic of diplomacy meant to calm the players and not inflame an already volatile situation.