Column: A Cold War could be on the horizon

The U.S. needs to look to Germany’s Angela Merkel and France’s François Hollande when determining the correct course of action in the Russia-Ukraine conflict

Russia recently launched a new offensive into Ukraine following months of unrest after the country annexed Crimea last year. Russia has sent troops and weapons over the border into Ukraine and attacked Ukrainian positions in the north of Luhansk and at Donetsk airport. CNN reported that the U.S. has accused Russia of sending tanks and troops in unmarked uniforms into the east of Ukraine to further encourage pro-Russian separatists to fight against the Ukrainian government.

This further escalation of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict has spearheaded discussions over how other powerful nations should respond. The U.S. is debating over the possibility of sending “lethal” weapons, such as anti-tank and anti-mortar systems, to Ukrainian troops. The government has already been providing Ukrainian armed forces with “non-lethal” weapons, such as night-vision goggles, and has been imposing sanctions on individuals in Russia, but they believe that the situation may require more drastic steps. The Washington Post has reported that more than a dozen members of Congress support the idea of sending “lethal” weapons to Ukraine.

However, European leaders have a much different opinion. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President François Hollande have already drafted a peace plan to present to Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian leader Petro Poroshenko. One of their appeals is to establish a demilitarized zone of 50 to 70 kilometers around the current front line, according to BBC News. Merkel has formerly announced that Germany will not be supplying weapons to Ukrainian troops.

The European method of sanctions and peace agreements seems much more promising than providing the Ukrainian military with more destructive weapons. Experts around the world are uncertain how Putin will reply to the further escalation of the conflict, but they do not think it will be a positive response. Sending more weapons into an already uneasy situation could prolong the conflict rather than deter Putin’s offensive strategies. The situation may turn into another Cold War, or even a full-on war, between the U.S. and Russia as they compete to outdo each other.

The U.S. has just withdrawn from a long and costly war, and our country is not ready to go into another one, especially one that we do not have any personal stakes in. The decision to send lethal weapons into the Ukraine means that the U.S. has decided they are prepared for a likely war, since Putin will most likely not retreat. Furthermore, the U.S. needs Russian support on other important strategic issues, such as nuclear talks with Iran and solving the unrest in the Middle East. These tasks would not be completed if the U.S. assigned precedence to the Russian-Ukrainian conflict.

Not only would relations with Russia crumble, ties within NATO would also be strained(http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-31185027). Germany has publicly denounced the idea of the U.S. sending weapons into Ukraine. If the U.S. did decide to move forward with this method, it would likely not please the European countries. They would be less likely to support the U.S. if help was needed during the outbreak of a Russian-U.S. war. It would also undermine the power of NATO as a whole. Putin would be more inclined to continue with his aggression if the organization was split on how to deal with the conflict, since it is more difficult to take instructions from a group that is experiencing internal rife.

The Ukrainian-Russian conflict has risen to an unacceptable level of violence. The UN reported that nearly 5400 people have died, and the BBC said that about 1.2 million Ukrainians have fled their homes since the conflict began. It is essential that the Western nations take some action. However, the U.S.’s idea of providing dangerous weapons to the Ukrainian military is not the way to go. They should be imposing harsher sanctions and restrictions rather than escalating the situation even more. Violence is rarely efficiently solved with more violence.

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