Top Democrats in Congress have lauded the Biden administration’s moves to provide weapons and equipment aid for Ukraine, but some are pressuring the president to speed up transfers and authorize more heavyweight items, Defense One reported.
While the administration has offered some heavy weaponry to Kyiv, like U.S.-made M1 Abrams main battle tanks, and recently backed a coalition to get F-16 fighter jets to the Ukrainian military, it has continued to deny requests for long-range weapons that could easily strike into Russian territory, DefenseOne reported. Some Democrats are frustrated with the slow pace of tank deliveries to Ukraine and say the administration is exercising too much caution, according to DefenseOne.
“We need to expedite the transfer of the Abrams tanks,” Democratic Rep. Jason Crow of Colorado, one of the most vocal supporters of sending advanced weapons to Ukraine, told DefenseOne. “You can’t tell me that using the Defense Production Act, and using other tools and American ingenuity and innovation, that we can’t figure out how to transfer 31 tanks before September.” (RELATED: Biden Admin Warned Ukraine Against Using US-Donated Military Equipment Inside Russia, Milley Says)
Some Democrats have joined Republican colleagues in urging the administration to grant Kyiv’s request for cluster munitions, according to Defense One. The administration has to this point rejected Kyiv’s requests over unspecified “concerns,” according to Politico.
“If our cluster munitions could bring the war to a conclusion sooner, it’s something I’m open to,” Democratic Rep. Adam Smith of Washington, the ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, said at a Council on Foreign Relations event on May 16.
The U.S. is one of only a few countries who maintain a stockpile of cluster munitions — a super-lethal weapon that releases mini-bombs upon detonation and is highly effective at disabling enemy troop positions, according to researchers at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. More than 100 countries have banned the weapon because the sub-munitions within the warhead often fail to detonate upon impact, posing a danger to civilians and friendly forces should they explode at the wrong moment.
Smith added he doesn’t share the administration’s reservations on supplying long-range ATACMS to Ukraine.
“About four hundred are produced a year and there’s capacity to produce five hundred a year … so there’s substantial capacity to produce more that’s not being used if the administration wanted to so use it,” he said.
.@SecDef: We’re going to stay focused on the key capabilities that Ukraine needs right now as well as in the medium term. pic.twitter.com/usebWWTcpL
— Department of Defense 🇺🇸 (@DeptofDefense) April 21, 2023
Crow advocated for a long-term view of investing in Ukraine’s defense, according to DefenseOne.
The administration should focus on making Ukraine resemble a “porcupine that can’t be swallowed,” guarded by a 360-degree blanket of powerful defenses that would prevent Moscow from even trying to penetrate further into the country, Crow told the outlet.
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