Administration officials interviewed this week said plans to help Ukrainian insurgents could include training in neighboring countries that are part of NATO’s eastern flank: Poland, Romania and Slovakia, which could allow insurgents to enter and leave Ukraine. Beyond logistical support and weapons, the United States and NATO allies could also provide medical supplies, services and even a sanctuary during Russian offensives. The United States would almost certainly provide weapons, officials said.
Since Russia invaded Crimea in 2014, successive US administrations have been careful to limit military support for Ukraine largely to defensive weapons. The United States has provided around $ 2.5 billion in military aid to Kiev, including anti-tank missiles and radars that allow the Ukrainian military to better locate sources of artillery fire. Assistance also included patrollers and communications equipment.
The United States is also working to provide Ukraine with battlefield intelligence that could help the country respond more quickly to an invasion, senior administration officials said.
But all of that aid has been calibrated so as not to provoke Mr Putin, officials said. If Russian troops crossed the border, officials said, the United States could offer offensive weapons and training.
“With the right equipment and the right tactics, Ukraine can drastically reduce the chances of a successful invasion,” former Ukrainian defense minister Andriy P. Zagorodnyuk wrote in an editorial for the Council on Sunday. Atlantic that reads like an instruction manual for how the United States can support an insurgency. “By combining serving military units with veterans, reservists, home defense units and large numbers of volunteers, Ukraine can create tens of thousands of small, highly mobile groups capable of attacking Russian forces. This will make it virtually impossible for the Kremlin to establish any administration over the occupied areas or to secure its supply lines. “
But it is unclear whether the Ukrainians would be ready to launch a campaign of insurgency that could last for years, if not decades. Some Ukrainian experts point to Crimea, where there has been little armed resistance since the Russian invasion. And Mr Putin could limit his seat to the eastern regions of Ukraine, which lean more pro-Russian than the west.
Understanding the escalating tensions over Ukraine
A Western Ukrainian military adviser said details of a specific resistance there remained a closely guarded secret. But already, especially in the west, the Ukrainians are joining the territorial defense forces which are training in guerrilla tactics.