Debate is picking up on the question of expanding military support for Ukraine. U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis indicated that providing additional forms of assistance, including lethal defensive weapons, is under active consideration in Washington. I hope as a friend of Ukraine that the U.S. will decide to lift former President [Barack] Obama’s ban on lethal defensive weapons in order to give Ukraine the means to defend itself. This would give more support to Ambassador [Kurt] Volker in his efforts to achieve a negotiated solution. The Russians recognize that they are not going to be able to maintain the status-quo including their daily attacks on Ukrainian forces with impunity. …
If Russia abandons its obstructionist attitude towards the negotiations and begins to talk seriously about implementing Minsk [accords], then it may be not necessary to provide these weapons. But the U.S. is signaling that continued stalemate in the negotiations could lead to the provision of lethal defensive weapons such as anti-tank weapons to the Ukrainian armed forces.
…I think ultimately the provision of lethal defensive weapons will improve the chances of a negotiated solution. These weapons are not meant to enable Ukraine to fight to a military victory. They are leveling the playing field to improve the chances for a negotiated solution in accordance with the Minsk agreements.
– Former Deputy Secretary General of NATO Alexander Vershbow, in an August 24 interview with Germany’s international broadcaster Deutsche Welle.