Lawmakers ask Secretary of Defense & the Joint Chiefs of Staff to expedite shipments of military equipment to Ukraine immediately.
Last week, U.S. Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS), a senior member of the Armed Services Committee, joined Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK) and four of their colleagues in a letter to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley, asking them to expedite shipments of military equipment to Ukraine immediately.
Those shipments were funded by Congress in the Additional Ukraine Supplemental Appropriations Act, which was passed on May 19th. The act provided nearly $20 billion for military aid to the Ukrainian military.
The Senators wrote that in the intervening weeks, President Biden approved five drawdowns and sent $3.3 billion worth of military aid to Ukraine, including the $400 million package approved on July 8, 2022.
“On June 23, 2022, we met with a delegation of Ukrainian fighter pilots and air defense officers to hear first-hand what they need to defend Ukrainian cities and military installations from Russian air and missile attacks,” the Senators wrote.
“Protecting Ukrainian cities, military infrastructure, and forces in the field from Russian air and missile attack requires ground-based air defense systems, Counter-Rocket, Artillery, Mortar (C-RAM) systems, and Avenger mobile anti-aircraft missile systems. Longer-range air defense systems will allow Ukraine to target Russian aircraft and cruise missiles operating at altitudes that Stingers cannot reach,” the Senators continued. “C-RAM will provide a critical point defense capability against missiles and Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) targeting civilian and military critical infrastructure. Avengers will provide Ukrainian forces with mobile, short-range air defense against low-flying aircraft, helicopters, and UAS.”
In the letter to the defense leaders, the lawmakers said that in addition to these critical air defense capabilities, it is imperative the United States continue to provide 155 mm Howitzers, High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS), armored personnel carriers, larger and more capable UAS platforms, and Mi-17 helicopters to the Ukrainian military.
The Senators also urged Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley to consider recommending the inclusion of fourth-generation fighter aircraft, along with funding for the necessary flight training in future military aid packages.
“The importance of ongoing delivery of ammunition cannot be stressed enough given the critical nature of Ukrainian efforts to retake lost territory. We also urge you to consider fourth-generation fighter aircraft and necessary flight training for inclusion in forthcoming military aid packages,” the lawmakers continued.
The lawmakers added that while the medium- and long-range air defense capabilities and HIMARS included in the June 27, 2022 and July 8, 2022 aid packages are a good start, these systems must be delivered at a pace and in quantity sufficient to impact the outcome of the fighting in the Donbas, Kherson and other regions.
“Our assistance must be decisive, not incremental. We urge you to act expeditiously, while coordinating with NATO allies and partners, to get this equipment to the Ukrainian military immediately,” the letter concluded.
You can read the full letter below.