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U.S. Considers Backing an Insurgency in Ukraine


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Administration officials interviewed this week said plans to help Ukrainian rebels could include providing training in neighboring countries that are part of NATO’s eastern flank: Poland, Romania and Slovakia, which could enable the rebels to infiltrate and exit Ukraine. In addition to logistical support and weapons, the United States and NATO allies can also provide equipment, medical services, and even safe haven during Russian attacks. Officials said the United States would almost certainly supply them with weapons.

Since Russia invaded Crimea in 2014, successive US administrations have made great efforts to reduce military support to Ukraine largely on defensive weapons. The United States has provided about $2.5 billion in military aid to Kiev, including anti-tank missiles and radar that enable the Ukrainian military to better identify sources of artillery fire. The assistance also included patrol boats and communications equipment.

Senior administration officials said the United States is also moving toward providing Ukraine with battlefield intelligence that could help the country respond more quickly to the invasion.

But officials said all of this aid was calibrated so as not to provoke Putin. If Russian forces cross the border, the officials said, the United States may provide offensive weapons and training.

The former Minister of Defense of Ukraine, Andrey B. How can the United States support the insurgency. “By combining operating military units with veterans, reservists, territorial defense units and large numbers of volunteers, Ukraine could create tens of thousands of small and highly mobile groups capable of attacking Russian forces. This would make it virtually impossible for the Kremlin to establish any kind of administration over occupied areas or securing their supply lines.”

But it is difficult to know whether the Ukrainians are ready to launch an insurgency campaign that could last years or even decades. Some Ukrainian experts refer to Crimea, where there has been little armed resistance since the Russian invasion. And Putin could limit his blockade to the eastern parts of Ukraine, which lean more toward Russia than the West.

A Western military adviser to the Ukrainians said details of specific resistance there were still classified. But already, especially in the West, Ukrainians are joining the territorial defense forces that are training in guerrilla tactics.

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