Republican senators have accused the Joe Biden administration of caving to Russian President Vladimir Putin by ditching a plan to supply warplanes to Ukraine for fear that Moscow would see it as an escalation of the war.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has pleaded for the U.S. to provide his military with more aircraft.
On Wednesday, the US said it cut off a plan for the U.S. to act as a middle man to send Polish MiG-29s to Ukraine because it could escalate the conflict.
Now , 40 Republic senators signed a letter from Sens. Joni Ernst of Iowa and Mitt Romney of Utah urging President Joe Biden to answer the call to provide Ukraine with fighter jets they need.
Sen. Tom Cotton accused the administration of putting Putin on the fromt foot.
‘If we continue to blink every time Vladimir Putin says, “Boo,” it’s not gonna stop in Ukraine. It’s not going to stop in Europe,’ he said.
‘We might as well call the commanding general at Fort Lewis outside Seattle and tell him to take down the flag and surrender our position because we will never stand up to Russia if every time Vladimir Putin says, “Boo,” we back down.’
At a press conference on Capitol Hill, Sen. Mitt Romney said: “Enough talk. People are dying.
‘Send them the planes they need.’
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell also criticized the Biden administration for moving too slowly to send military help to Ukraine.
‘This administration has been a step behind every step of the way,’ McConnell said.
In a meeting with top intelligence officials, Cotton pressed Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines on why supplying the most advanced anti-tank grenades and anti-aircraft was permitted, but supplying aircraft was escalatory.
‘I don’t see a lot of common sense between this distinction,’ he said.
She responded by saying the U.S. was trying to walk a fine line.
‘We’re in a very challenging position, right, where we are obviously providing enormous amounts of support to Ukraine as we should and need to do, but at the same time trying not to escalate the conflict into a full-on NATO or U.S. war with Russia,’ she said during a hearing of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Cotton and other senators accused the country’s highest ranking intelligence chiefs of giving the administration cover for not facilitating a jet fighter exchange, when officials had already said it was OK for other countries to send warplanes directly.
Sen. Ben Sasse added;
‘Vladimir Putin will embrace the idea that we might self-deter every time he issues a press release,’ he said
‘And lawyerly hair-splitting about providing this kind of weaponry is not escalatory but providing that kind of weaponry is escalatory – I don’t think we really believe that.
‘I think the administration is pushing the intelligence community to give them cover for lean forward decisions they don’t want to be making.’
Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, said it was time to make Putin ‘fearful.’
‘It’s time for Putin to be fearful of what we might do. This is war. People are dying. We need to get aircraft to President Zelenskyy and the people of Ukraine immediately,’ he wrote on Twitter.
The attacks from the Republican party come after Poland suggested they would fly their MiG-29 jets to the U.S.’s Rammstein Air Base in Germany, where it would be up to the U.S. to deliver the jets back east to Ukraine. The US called the proposal ‘untenable,’ before killing the transfer idea altogether.