US, UK, Other NATO Alliance Members Must Decide Independently Whether To Arm Ukraine Or Not Vs Russia – Stoltenberg

By @ibtimesau on
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NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg gestures as he attends a panel discussion at 'Bayerischer Hof' hotel during the 51st Munich Security Conference in Munich February 6, 2015. REUTERS/Michaela Rehle REUTERS/Michaela Rehle

Jens Stoltenberg, NATO secretary-general, has admitted the alliance has started to seriously broach on the idea of lethally arming Ukraine against Russia. Earlier, alliance-member United States said it is open to finally provide arms and weapons to the Kiev forces. However, Stoltenberg said any decision to send lethal arms to Ukraine would be a decision undertaken and approved by each member-state.

Stoltenberg said discussions are currently taking place among NATO members regarding furnishing Ukraine with arms and weapons. However, NATO as a body “does not possess weapons,” Stoltenberg said on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference in Germany. This meant that the decision to arm Ukraine will be made independently by each member-state and not as a group. “I will limit myself to say that we have an ongoing discussion on how we can help Ukraine and every nation has the right to protect and defend itself.”

However, in the same security conference, German chancellor Angela Merkel warned her counterparts that arming the Ukrainian army may not be enough to prevent Russia. “It cannot be won militarily,” Ms Merkel declared. “That is the bitter truth.” Finland, France and Italy likewise rejected the idea or arming Ukraine. British foreign secretary Philip Hammond also believed the conflict in Ukraine will not be solved by a military solution, but still said sending lethal military aid to Kiev was an option the U.K. government will consider later on. “If there were a radical change of circumstances on the ground we would want to keep our options open, we would want to be able to think about using all the levers we have available to influence the situation on the ground,” he said.

Ms Merkel rallied on the participants of the 51st Munich Security Conference to give the sanctions slapped against Russia time to take its course. “I am 100 percent convinced that we will win with our principles,” she said. “When some in the European Union say after just two months we can’t see any effect of the sanctions, then I can only say: ‘That’s not how you win the battle.’”

In the case of the U.S., should it push through its decision of finally arming Ukraine versus the Russian rebels, the arms support it will extend will not violate the Minsk agreement, Jen Psaki from the U.S. Department of State asserted during a press briefing on Monday.

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