New US Weapons Aid to Ukraine Threatens Escalation of War

The United States has recently given Ukraine M777 howitzers to help in the country’s defense against the Russian invasion. The highly effective battle platform might be too good. It can put shells on target at a maximum range of 24.7 kilometers (about 15.35 miles). This new weapons system allows the Ukraine army to strike targets easily within the geographic boundaries of Russia from some of its forward positions.

If Ukraine started shelling targets in Russia it would be a huge escalation in tactics that may galvanize Russian President Vladimir Putin’s resolve to see the conflict to the bitter end. Furthermore, given the US is the reason Ukraine would have the newfound capability, the Russian president could blame America directly. Pushed into a corner, he could use the situation as justification for striking out at NATO in self-defense.

The US and its NATO partners are already providing strategic intelligence to Ukraine, which has allowed the small country to be extremely effective in targeting Russian assets. Especially Russian generals. Basically, the US is doing everything but pressing the trigger on these attacks, sinking ships, destroying armor, and killing Russian personnel. If it continues to happen, or increases at scale, Putin may consider it a distinction without a difference.

The United States is not the only country extending the range abilities of Ukraine, either. Denmark is providing Harpoon anti-ship missiles for the conflict as well. The Harpoon missile system has a max range of 280 kilometers. Coupled with US intelligence and targeting it could prove deadly for the Russian navy.

Given the increasing amount of coordination between NATO and Ukraine, as well as the ever-increasing amount of aid and weapons supplied, the United States is in a de facto proxy war with Russia. To this point, Putin has limited his armed forces’ attacks on Ukrainian targets but that could change at any time. Russian officials have already said that countries providing military aid could be considered belligerent participants and staging areas could be subject to attack.

To this point the US has been acting as if its almost unlimited support will not result in any consequences. That view could prove to be naïve if Russia decides to respond in kind.