Administration officials interviewed this week said plans to assist Ukrainian insurgents could include providing training in nearby countries that are part of NATO’s eastern flank: Poland, Romania and Slovakia, which could allow insurgents to move in and out. from Ukraine. Beyond logistical support and weapons, the United States and NATO allies could also provide medical equipment, services, and even shelter during Russian offensives. The United States is almost certain to supply weapons, officials said.
Since Russia invaded Crimea in 2014, successive US administrations have struggled to limit military support to Ukraine largely to defensive weaponry. 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 detect sources of artillery fire. Assistance has also included patrol boats and communications equipment.
The United States is also moving to provide Ukraine battlefield intelligence that could help the country respond more quickly to an invasion, senior administration officials said.
But all that aid has been calibrated so as not to provoke Putin, officials said. If Russian troops crossed the border, officials said the United States could offer offensive weaponry and training.
“With the right equipment and tactics, Ukraine can dramatically reduce the chances of a successful invasion,” wrote a former Ukrainian defense minister, Andriy P. Zagorodnyuk, in a op-ed for the Atlantic Council on Sunday it reads like an instruction manual on how the United States can support an insurgency. By combining military service units with combat veterans, reservists, territorial 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 kind of administration over the occupied areas or to secure its supply lines. “
But it is difficult to know whether the Ukrainians would be willing to launch an insurgency campaign that could drag on for years or even decades. Some experts in Ukraine point to Crimea, where there has been little armed resistance since Russia invaded. And Putin could limit his siege to the eastern parts of Ukraine, which lean more in favor of Russia than the west.
Understand the growing tensions over Ukraine
A Western military adviser to the Ukrainians said details of a specific resistance remained a closely guarded secret. But already, particularly in the west, Ukrainians are joining territorial defense forces training in guerilla tactics.