Ukrainian officials consider the lack of U.S. support a particular slight. Some frame the conflict as an existential one for the West. And they smart at the sales made to other, decidedly less democratic states. Others feel Washington had effectively promised to arm Kiev by saying it would help Ukraine “build a capable army,” as senior State Department official Victoria Nuland put it in the spring, but then left it in the lurch. Igor Smeshko, head of Ukrainian military intelligence, complained at a conference on Wednesday that U.S. and European officials had urged Kiev to hold off airstrikes when the first Russian armored columns crossed the border in the summer, then
“The West made us lose this war,” a Ukrainian official involved in discussions with the U.S. told BuzzFeed News recently, speaking on condition of anonymity. “They promised they would help our army, and then they stabbed us in the back,” he added, weeping slightly and tapping his fist on the table.
What does arrive — there is particular hope for Javelin anti-tank weapons — won’t be enough to turn the tide. The Ukrainian army is so ragtag and so incompetently run that providing it with sophisticated equipment requiring lengthy training would be useless. Nor has it exactly covered itself in glory in recent weeks, when troops have shot at foreign observers, probably shelled civilian areas, and deployed cluster munitions and incendiary bombs.
But supporters of a Senate bill aimed at arming Ukraine hope that American weapons could at least steam a potential advance.