International Business Times quotes Eurasia Center Director John Herbst on whether the United States should provide arms to Ukraine:
Providing lethal aid could prompt Russian President Vladimir Putin to step up his government’s support for separatists, but given it was a “no-brainer” to support Ukraine to counter Russia’s wider aggressive policies in the region, according to former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine John Herbst. “If we provide arms that make it harder for Putin to achieve his objectives, it’s possible that the Russians will escalate, and it may be that they make the same gains anyways. But if they do, they’ll take a lot more casualties and it’ll put more domestic pressure on Putin,” he said. “Additionally, if he does step up aggression, it will make his intent more clear and it’s more likely the sanctions will remain in place.”
There are “senior officials in the administration [that are] in favor” of providing weapons, Herbst said, but the president has maintained a commitment to use non-violent economic sanctions to sway Russia to pull its support for eastern Ukrainian rebels. Secretary of State John Kerry and National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice are both open to the idea and outgoing Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel supports supplying “defensive” aid, according to government sources.