The US defense secretary’s joint press conference with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on Ukrainian Independence Day [August 24] represents an "escalation" of tensions with Moscow, investigative journalist Rick Sterling told Radio Sputnik’s Loud & Clear Thursday.

Pentagon chief Jim Mattis said the US is “actively reviewing” whether to supply Kiev with “defensive lethal weapons,” a move the Obama administration said could heighten the conflict in Donbass. Javelin anti-tank missiles and anti-aircraft systems have been floated as possible “defensive” armaments for Washington to ship to Kiev.

Sending such weapons could impact Ukrainian-Russian relations as well as US-Russian relations, Loud & Clear host Brian Becker noted.  

​"There’s a lot of semantics involved here," Sterling observed. "They’re referring to them as ‘defensive’ weapons … if the tanks are actually for protection purposes in the Donbass or Eastern Ukraine, then attacking or knocking those out could hardly be considered defensive."

“I will go back now having seen the current situation and be able to inform the secretary of state and the president in very specific terms what I recommend for the direction ahead,” Mattis said at the press conference. While stating that he personally supports Ukraine, analysts have observed that Mattis’ omission of a promise to send the weapons was significant.

US President Donald Trump may take a page from his predecessor’s book – former President Barack Obama famously said his foreign concept was founded on the axiom: “Don’t do stupid shit.” How well he adhered to this maxim is debatable, but Obama did tell confidantes that this basic tenet on the dangers of interventionist foreign policies was the “first task of an American president in the post-Bush international arena,” The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg wrote.

Sputnik