In the wake of the Malaysian airliner shoot down, President Obama has ordered the Defense Department to send officials to the Ukraine to make an assessment of how best to bolster that country’s struggle against Russian backed rebels, according to a Tuesday story in the Washington Times. Aid to the Ukraine has thus far included night-vision devices, thermal imagers, helmets, explosive-ordnance disposal robots, and radios. The United States is likely to post teams of military advisors in the Ukraine. There is no word yet as to whether weapons and ordinance will be sent to the beleaguered country.
USA Today adds that senior Pentagon officials have already met with their Ukrainian counterparts to ascertain "ways our countries could strengthen our long-term defense cooperation to help Ukraine build highly effective armed forces and defense institutions." The Ukrainian military, which has thus far been helpless to prevent seizure by Russian backed rebels of territory such as the Ukraine, have recently began to make inroads in rebel occupied territory in the Eastern Ukraine. Nevertheless, two Ukrainian military jets have been shot down by rebel troops.
Hot Air notes that the move seems to represent a return to the surrogate wars of the Cold War in which the United States and the Soviet Union backed separate sides in conflicts ranging from Greece in the 1940s to Afghanistan in the 1980s. In some of these wars, such as Vietnam, the United States got the short end of the stick. However America got a measure of revenge in Afghanistan where it armed Mujahidin rebels fighting against Soviet invaders.
How far the conflict will go remains to be seen. Thus far President Obama has been accused by his critics of being weak in the face of Russian backed aggression against a sovereign neighbor, albeit a country that used to be part of the Soviet Union and before that the Russian Empire. Everything depends on whether Russian President Vladimir Putin will try to press ahead or whether he will try to cut his losses.