The Biden administration is considering whether it could back a Ukrainian insurgency if Russian President Vladimir Putin invades, The Washington Post reports.
The administration is considering its options as Russia continues to amass troops along the Ukrainian border ahead of a possible invasion.
An official told the Post that the administration has discussed the possibility of providing weapons and other support to the Ukrainian military to fight back. It is also considering similar support to insurgent groups if Russia is able to topple the Ukrainian government.
The weapons include shoulder-fired antiaircraft missiles, according to the report, which it also provided to Afghans during Russia’s invasion in the 80s.
The administration’s task force, which includes the CIA and other agencies, also includes a legal team that is studying how assistance to insurgents could be provided without violating any federal or international laws.
Biden has ruled out involving US troops in the event of an invasion but the White House is considering “gray-zone tactics” to avoid the possibility of an “all-out war over Ukraine,” according to the report.
NATO has announced plans to advance troops toward Russia if Putin continues to ignore warnings. The US and the European Union have threatened sanctions if Putin invades.
The White House is aiming to deter an invasion but worries that “too much saber-rattling” could end up escalating the crisis.
“We are prepared to consider a number of things that we have not considered in the past, and the results will be very profound on the Russian Federation, but I’m not going to go into details,” a senior administration official told reporters Friday.
US pushes for diplomatic solution:
The administration has sought a diplomatic settlement between the two countries.
The United States has said it is willing to negotiate a settlement under the framework of the Minsk Protocols of 2014 and 2015, which would provide semi-autonomy to Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine.
But Putin has demanded a lot more, including a guarantee that Ukraine will never be added to NATO.
A senior administration official told the Post that some of Russia’s demands are “unacceptable” but “there are other things that we are prepared with work with and that merit some discussion.”