Government officials interviewed this week said plans to help Ukrainian insurgents could include training in nearby countries that make up NATO’s eastern flank: Poland, Romania and Slovakia, which would force insurgents into and out of Ukraine. can slip out. In addition to logistical support and weapons, the United States and NATO allies could also provide medical equipment, services and even refuge during Russian offensives. The United States would almost certainly supply weapons, the officials said.
Since Russia invaded Crimea in 2014, successive US administrations have made efforts to limit military aid to Ukraine largely to defensive weapons. The United States has provided about $2.5 billion in military aid to Kiev, including anti-tank missiles and radar that help the Ukrainian military better detect sources of artillery fire. Assistance also included patrol boats and communications equipment.
The United States is also on track to provide Ukraine with battlefield intelligence that could help the country respond more quickly to an invasion, senior government officials said.
But all that aid is calibrated not to provoke Putin, officials said. If Russian troops cross the border, the officials said, the United States could offer offensive weapons and training.
“With the right equipment and tactics, Ukraine can dramatically reduce the chances of a successful invasion,” former Ukrainian Defense Minister Andriy P. Zagorodnyuk wrote Sunday in an opinion piece for the Atlantic Council that reads like an instruction manual for how the United States support an uprising. “By combining service military units with combat veterans, reservists, territorial defense units and large numbers of volunteers, Ukraine can create tens of thousands of small and highly mobile groups capable of attacking Russian forces. This will make it virtually impossible for the Kremlin to establish any form of government over occupied territories or secure its supply lines.”
But it’s hard to know whether Ukrainians would be willing to launch an insurgency campaign that could drag on for years or even decades. Some Ukraine experts point to Crimea, where there has been little armed resistance since Russia’s invasion. And Mr Putin could limit his siege to the eastern parts of Ukraine, which are more pro-Russian than the west.
Understand the escalating tensions over Ukraine
A Western military adviser to the Ukrainians said details of a specific resistance there remained a closely guarded secret. But already, especially in the west, Ukrainians are joining the territorial forces training in guerrilla tactics.