The United States should provide military aid to Ukraine but should understand that the strength it lends the government in Kyiv will be more political than military, at least in the short run, says Former Undersecretary of Defense Walter Slocombe. As the Obama administration has limited its assistance to “non-lethal” supplies such as rations and clothing, US leaders and analysts, including Senator John McCain, former ambassador to Ukraine John Herbst and others, have called for greater US help, including weapons and high-tech equipment. Slocombe, a director of the Atlantic Council, says in an interview that US officials “ought to be realistic,” noting that provision of sophisticated systems also will require training – and therefore a passage of time – to be militarily effective.

Analysts agree that Russian belligerence in Ukraine is a threat not only to the country but also to security in Europe more broadly. Still, the Russia-Ukraine conflict “is not August 1914,” Slococmbe says. While the West must confront Russia over its seizures in Crimea and eastern Ukraine, the crisis does not now threaten a wider European war, he says.