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US military aid to Ukraine won’t change balance of forces in Donbass conflict — expert

The administration of US President Joe Biden is not interested in a dramatic escalation of the conflict, Director-General of the Russian International Affairs Council Andrei Kortunov pointed out

MOSCOW, November 22. /TASS/. US military aid to Ukraine is unlikely to change the balance of forces in the Donbass conflict as Moscow will have to render direct support to Donetsk and Lugansk if Kiev attempts to resolve the confrontation militarily, Director-General of the Russian International Affairs Council Andrei Kortunov told TASS on Monday.

The Russian expert was commenting on a statement by Ukrainian Military Intelligence Chief Kirill Budanov that the Ukrainian military had used US Javelin anti-tank missile systems in Donbass.

"The Russian stance is that if Kiev partially attempts to resolve the conflict in southeastern Ukraine by military means, this will trigger Russia’s direct engagement with possible disastrous consequences for the Ukrainian statehood. In this case, no Javelins and no drones will help Kiev," the Russian expert stressed.

"It is also obvious that neither the United States, nor Turkey nor Great Britain as NATO members that are cooperating with Ukraine in the military-technical sphere will fight on the Ukrainian side. NATO’s military aid can change the balance of forces from the standpoint of the intra-Ukrainian balance but this is irrelevant from the standpoint of the balance between Russia and Ukraine," he pointed out.

The administration of US President Joe Biden is not interested in a dramatic escalation of the conflict as this may unleash ‘a big war in the center of Europe," Kortunov said.

However, Washington will continue rendering military and technical assistance to Kiev to keep a lever of pressure on Moscow, the expert pointed out.

In this case, Ukraine is "a bargaining chip in a geopolitical game," the United States is seeking to secure more advantageous terms at talks with Russia on other problems, the military analyst stressed.

However, if Moscow renders direct military aid to Lugansk and Donetsk, Washington will respond by imposing anti-Russian sanctions: none of NATO members is going to fight on Ukraine’s side, the expert pointed out.

Provocations by external forces

The more Western countries are being engaged in the conflict by providing military aid to Ukraine, the more they force Russia to get involved in the Donbass confrontation. In addition, the West’s support inspires Ukrainian politicians who have a tough stance on Donbass. Also, the advocates of the military scenario in the southeast of Ukraine are now tending to prevail in the country’s public and political domain, he said.

While the escalation of the confrontation will turn out to be a disastrous scenario for Ukraine, the conflict turning international plays into Kiev’s hands, the expert noted.

"What is happening now can be characterized as some internationalization of this conflict. In some sense, this is a success of the Ukrainian policy as Kiev has always set the goal of making the confrontation international and everyone understands that Kiev has a flawed position in the Russia-Ukraine bilateral system of coordinates," the expert said.

"But if the conflict turns into a Russia-West stand-off, then the balance of forces radically changes and the asymmetry swings to the opposite and more in favor of the West. In this case, the aggregate possibilities of the West rather than those of Russia are more likely to take the upper hand," the expert said.