A bipartisan group of more than three dozen lawmakers is pushing the Biden administration to expand the weapons being provided to Ukraine’s military amid continued demands from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to help his country with more weapons to defend itself against Russia, according to a letter obtained by CNN.
Democratic Reps. Andy Kim of New Jersey and Jason Crow of Colorado and GOP Rep. Peter Meijer of Michigan spearheaded the letter sent to President Joe Biden on Monday urging the US to provide more weapons, including long-range surface-to-air missiles, fighter aircraft and anti-ship missiles. The lawmakers say their request is based off a wish list Ukrainian officials provided Capitol Hill last week obtained by CNN laying out 17 areas where Ukraine is seeking additional assistance.
The lawmakers’ request also includes increasing the supply of Stinger anti-air and Javelin-anti-tank missiles that Ukraine is running low on, as well as drones that have a greater range so Ukraine can “better disrupt Russian supply lines and counter Russian siege tactics, especially in Eastern Ukraine.”
“We recognize that the United States and its allies and partners have already provided substantial military aid, in response to the Russian invasion, including a portion of the $13.6 billion in emergency funds through the fiscal 2022 Omnibus Appropriations bill,” the lawmakers wrote. “However, Ukrainians are clear that more needs to be done for Ukraine to win this war.”
The Biden administration has said the US and NATO allies are providing Ukraine with weapons at a historic pace, sending hundreds of millions worth of equipment since Russia’s invasion began in February. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday that there would soon be 10 anti-tank weapons systems in Ukraine for every Russian tank in Ukrainian territory.
US officials have emphasized they are providing Ukrainians with weapons they can use while suggesting that some of the requests – like fighter jets – aren’t as practical as other needs.
The lawmakers, however, argued that Ukraine is running low on its fighter aircraft. “Ukraine has more than enough pilots trained to fly additional aircraft if supplied,” the letter said. “Additional aircraft would also allow Ukrainian forces to provide a more adequate defense of urban areas like Kharkiv and Mariupol, where numerous civilian casualties have occurred following Russian attacks.”