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Republicans on Thursday kept up pressure on President Joe Biden to go further in arming Ukrainian forces, a day after the White House unveiled an $800 million package of drones, anti-aircraft missiles and anti-tank weapons.
Rep. Mike Waltz, a former green beret who is now a member of the House Intelligence Committee, demanded that the Biden administration send Polish MiG fighter jets and help deliver Soviet-era anti-aircraft systems to the embattled government of Volodymr Zelensky.
Although he welcomed the new package, he slammed Biden for refusing to send warplanes and urged him to work with partners to get S300 missile defense systems to Ukraine.
‘These new weapon transfers are welcomed,’ he told DailyMail.com.
‘Congress continues to push the Biden administration to do more.
‘My hope is they’ll allow the transfer of MiGs and S300s, and draw a clear red line that the use WMDs by Russia will trigger a direct U.S. response.’
Arming Ukraine has become a bipartisan issue, as TV coverage shows how Ukrainian forces have managed to slow and stall the massive Russian advance.
On Thursday, Biden unveiled another round of deliveries, taking total assistance to $2 billion.
‘We’re going to give Ukraine the arms to fight and defend themselves through all the difficult days ahead,’ he promised.
But Republicans and some Democrats say the White House must do more. Republicans in particular have accused Biden of being fainthearted for failing to help Poland deliver its 28 MiGs to Ukraine for fear of escalating the war.
‘The frustration is he continues to draw these false distinctions between this type of weapon systems is okay, but this type of weapon system is not okay,’ Waltz told Fox News.
‘Give Zelensky the damn MiGs, give him the air superiority that he needs to protect his cities that are literally being levelled as we speak.
Rep. Mike Waltz, a former Green Beret, urged President Biden to go further in arming Ukraine and demanded that he set ‘red lines’ on Putin’s use of weapons of mass destruction
Poland offered to hand its MiG-29s to the US, for transfer to the Ukrainian air force. But Washington vetoed the plan last week, even as lawmakers keep up calls to send the planes
President Volodmyr Zelenksy made an impassioned plea to Congress on Wednesday demanding help to defend his country against Russian aggression
Russian forces bombed a theatre on Wednesday where hundreds of civilians, including children, were sheltering in the encircled port city of Mariupol on Wednesday, the city council said. The Ukrainian government says the Polish jets would help stop attacks
The lethal arms and equipment in Biden’s new $800m Ukraine package
The Biden administration says it has committed $2 billion in military assistance to Ukraine.
On Wednesday, President Joe Biden unveiled another $800 million in arms and support.
800 Stinger anti-aircraft systems
2,000 Javelin, 1,000 light anti-armor weapons, and 6,000 AT-4 anti-armor systems
100 Tactical Unmanned Aerial Systems – or drones
Should fired stinger missiles have helped protect Ukrainian cities
100 grenade launchers, 5,000 rifles, 1,000 pistols, 400 machine guns, and 400 shotguns
Over 20 million rounds of small arms ammunition and grenade launcher and mortar rounds
25,000 sets of body armor
‘I support not getting into a no-fly zone that would mean actually bombing Russia, American planes bombing Russia and their air defence systems in Ukraine.
‘Let’s gives Zelensky every single thing, every single weapon system, every single bullet that he needs to defend his country.’
He also condemned Biden for refusing to set ‘red lines’ around the Russian invasion.
‘One thing I also think the president needs to do right now is draw a red line when it comes to chemical weapons and weapons of mass destruction,’ he said.
‘We need to make Putin afraid of what we will do in that instance, rather than the other way around.
‘When it comes to WMD. The president needs to say all options are on the table. And we will consider intervening at that point.’
On Wednesday, Zelensky made an impassioned plea to Congress asking for more help to protect Ukrainian skies.
‘You know how much depends on the battlefield, on the ability to use aircraft, powerful, strong aviation to protect our people, our freedom, our land,’ he said.
‘Aircrafts that can help Ukraine help Europe and you know that they exist, and you have them, but they are on Earth, not in the Ukrainian sky.’
Hours later, Biden announced his latest arms package, including 800 anti-aircraft systems, 9,000 anti-armor systems, portable ‘high accuracy’ shoulder mounted missiles, and 7,000 small arms, plus machine guns, shotguns, and grenade launchers.
With it comes 20 million rounds of ammunition and 25,000 sets of body armor and helmets.
Biden also said it would include 100 tactical unmanned aerial systems, reported to be ‘Switchblade’ drones which deliver their deadly payload by crashing into targets.
But Republicans said more was needed.
Republicans including Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming accused President Joe Biden of moving too slowly to get vital arms to Ukraine and repeated their calls for the U.S. to help deliver Soviet-era warplanes to fight off the Russian invasion
Biden remains under pressure to do more to help get Polish MiG-29 warplanes to Ukraine
Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma said it was a ‘half measure’ that failed to meet the moment.
‘I’ve been clear that we should have been sending much more military aid to the Ukrainians, with more training, for more than a year,’ he said.
‘President Biden didn’t do that, and now we’re rushing to deliver aid just in time.’
Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming told Fox News that Zelensky knew better than the White House what was needed.
‘He needs the mix,’ he said.
‘We have a bipartisan group that says: Give this man the aeroplanes that he needs. He needs the sky to be protected.
‘Joe Biden’s been slow on that to me. They’re a game changer.’
And Rep Mike Turner said Biden had dragged his feet at every step.
‘That, of course, has cost Ukrainian lives,’ he told Fox News before Biden unveiled the new military aid.
Republicans introduced a Senate resolution on Wednesday urging Biden to send the MiG-29s.
‘We’ve been talking. We have written letters. Now it’s time to take votes,’ he said.
‘If we had a vote on the resolution to supply the Ukrainian military with the MiG fighters and other air defense systems, it would be a shot in the arm to Ukrainian people and their military.
‘It would be a blow to Putin.’
Last week Poland offered its 28 MiG-29s to Ukraine, but said it would hand them over to U.S. custody at Ramstein air base, in Germany, for delivery.
The announcement appeared to wrongfoot American officials, who eventually declined the offer.
They had been in talks to backfill Poland’s air force with more modern F-16s, but were not prepared for a plan that involved such close involvement in the MiGs transfer to Ukraine.
At issue, is the danger of N.A.T.O. getting sucked into a war with Russia, and red lines laid down by Moscow.
The ceiling of an apartment is completely collapsed in the tower block which was hit by the remains of a Russian missile shot down over Kyiv
Vladimir Galinkov packs his belongings to evacuate his damaged apartment after the building was hit by pieces of a destroyed Russian missile
The result has been growing pressure from lawmakers to help send the planes, while the Biden administration has at times got twisted up with multiple explanations about why the deal should not happen.
Biden himself ignored shouted questions about the MiGs during public appearances on Wednesday.
But last week, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said Ukraine’s air force remained largely intact, and Russian planes were avoiding exposure by launching missiles inside their own airspace.
‘Therefore, we believe that the gain from transferring those MIG-29s is low,’ he said.
‘And finally, the intelligence community has assessed the transfer of MIG-29s to Ukraine may be mistaken as escalatory.
‘And could result in significant Russian reaction that might increase the prospects of a military escalation with N.A.T.O.’
Biden has already ruled out a no-fly zone for fear of sparking World War Three with N.A.T.O. pilots going head to head with Russian flyers.
And delivering the planes could bring the same outcome. Polish or American pilots flying into Ukraine risks Russia accusing N.A.T.O. of entering the war.
Or if Ukrainian pilots travel to Poland to collect them, Moscow could accuse the Ukrainian air force of using foreign air fields – a potential ‘casus belli’ and grounds to attack Poland, according to a foreign diplomat familiar with discussions.
So how about towing them across the border – something the U.S. did in World War Two, when it gave planes to Canada before formally ending the conflict.
The White House has raised another distinction. Air defense systems, small arms and anti-tank weapons are defensive in nature, runs the argument, while Mig-29 fighter jets are offensive and capable of taking the fight to Russia.
‘Again, I would note that the equipment that we’ve provided is defensive, as you know, not offensive and we see that as being a difference,’ said White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki on Wednesday.
But with the addition of deadly drones – as well as grenade launchers, rifles and shotguns – on the list supplied to Ukraine, she faced repeated probing about what was so different about sending planes.
‘Anybody that looks at that list of weapons that I just mentioned, they would say clearly, they’re offensive,’ said John Decker of Fox News Radio.
Psaki responded by saying: ‘There is a difference between a plane, and planes, and massive military systems – I think anybody would recognise this.
‘And what we were talking about, which is giving rifles and pistols to many of them farmers and people living in countrysides to defend themselves, I think there’s a difference that most people recognize.’
Source: Daily Mail