Ashton Carter belligerent on Ukraine at Senate hearing

Barack Obama’s nominee for secretary of defence backs the arming of Ukraine

Ashton Carter, US president Barack Obama’s nominee to be secretary of defence, during a Senate Armed Services Committee nomination hearing in Washington. Photograph: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Ashton Carter, US president Barack Obama’s nominee to be secretary of defence, during a Senate Armed Services Committee nomination hearing in Washington. Photograph: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

 

President Barack Obama’s choice to be the next US secretary of defence has said he would be “very much inclined” to send lethal arms to the Ukrainian government to fight Russian-backed separatists.

Testifying at his Senate confirmation hearing, Ashton Carter, the former number two at the Pentagon, backed the arming of Ukraine with American small arms, anti-tank missiles and other missiles ahead of the White House deciding its position on the issue. This would be beyond the non-lethal aid that the US has so far sent the Kiev government.

“My responsibilities would be to protect America and its friends and allies in a turbulent and dangerous world. We need to support Ukraine in defending themselves,” Mr Carter told the Senate armed services committee, which was vetting him to replace Chuck Hagel.

Mr Carter was chosen by Mr Obama after the president pushed out Mr Hagel in November. There had been tensions with the Pentagon over strategy in the Middle East and the pace of detainee releases from the Guantànamo prison, which Mr Obama wants closed.