McConnell Says Biden Should Arm Ukraine Against Russia Threat
(Bloomberg) -- Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said President Joe Biden should supply Ukraine with “whatever weapons they think they need” to defend themselves from a potential Russian invasion.
His comments on Monday came on the eve of a call between Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin over Russia’s growing military presence on the Ukrainian border.
Speaking at a Wall Street Journal conference, McConnell urged Biden to supply the Ukrainians with any arms they might require beyond the mostly defensive weaponry that the U.S. has supplied in the past.
“Back during the Cold War, one of the things that we did both parties successfully was to try to arm those who were sympathetic with us,” McConnell said. “And even though Ukraine is not part of NATO, all of our NATO allies are completely freaked out” with the Russian troops on the border of Ukraine.
Putin’s main demand is for guarantees from the U.S. and its allies that NATO won’t expand further east and won’t deploy weapons systems there that Russia considers a threat.
Putin’s vision of Ukraine as having ancient and inseparable ties to Russia was shaken after pro-western protesters ousted President Viktor Yanukovych, a Kremlin ally, in 2014. Russia then seized the Crimean peninsula and threw its support behind an insurgency in Ukraine’s Donbas region that has killed more than 13,000 people.
The U.S. has provided Ukraine with more than $4.6 billion in assistance, including both security and non-security assistance, since 2014, according to the State Department. In March, the U.S. announced a $125 million defense package for the country.
Security assistance to Ukraine was at the center of the 2020 impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump, who was accused of holding up military aid to extract dirt on Biden’s son Hunter. And Ukraine has pressed the U.S. on its desire to join NATO, the military alliance designed in part as a check on Russian power.
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