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Thursday, June 20th, 2024

House lawmakers press DoD to accelerate weapon deliveries, training for Ukraine

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Amid ramped up assaults by Russian forces on Ukraine, a group of U.S. Congress members recently urged the Biden administration to hasten deliveries of resources to its Eastern European ally.

“The Ukrainian people continue to demonstrate a strong willingness to resist Russian efforts to take sovereign Ukrainian territory by force,” the 13 lawmakers wrote in a letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. “Recent reports indicate that aid to Ukraine is not arriving in sufficient quantities and in a timely manner, exacerbating the dire situation on the ground. Ukrainian officials have expressed grave concerns, stating that the situation is worse than ever. We ask that you work with us to expedite resources as our friends in Ukraine continue to defend their territory against Russia’s brutal assault and aggression.”

The letter followed a meeting with Ukrainian parliamentarians. After that meeting, the lawmakers urged authorization of weapons for Ukraine that would allow it to expand its defensive efforts to offensive ones, giving it the capability to strike strategic targets within Russia. They also called for training more Ukrainian F-16 pilots and shoring up its overtaxed air defense systems.

In the past year, Russia has particularly used its air assets to target Ukrainian energy infrastructure and urban areas, leaving military and civilians in the dark. And while Ukraine has struck some blows inside Russia since it was first invaded, the United States and other countries have often held back authorization of use for their weapons to that purpose. Now, these lawmakers want that use explicitly stated.

“Ukrainian officials have watched for weeks as Russian troops have attacked Ukrainian communities from Russian territory with impunity,” the representatives wrote. “Ukrainians have been unable to defend themselves due to the Administration’s current policy. It is essential the Biden Administration allows Ukraine’s military leaders an ability to conduct a full spectrum of operations necessary to respond to Russia’s unprovoked attack on their sovereign land.”

Additionally, while the Biden administration approved transferring F-16 jets to Ukraine’s control last year, it will only have 12 pilots trained on the craft by the end of 2024, according to the U.S. Air Force. The lawmakers called for prioritizing training of Ukrainian pilots over other nations, along with adding seven Patriot batteries to Ukraine’s control to protect large urban areas.