GOP blasts Biden for refusing Ukraine F-16 fighter jets

Republican congressional lawmakers on Sunday blasted President Biden for ​refusing to provide F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine — with one GOP senator calling the administration’s delay in sending military aid to the war-torn country a “real blunder.”

Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Ala.), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said he believes Biden’s botched military withdrawal from Afghanistan in August 2021 “emboldened” Russia’s President Vladimir Putin to invade his eastern neighbor in February 2022.

He urged the administration to fully support Ukraine short of deploying US troops on the ground.

But Sullivan said he was dismayed by how the Biden White House has “slow-rolled critical military weapons systems” like missile defense batteries, tanks and armored equipment.

“To me, that is a real blunder,” he said on NBC News’ “Meet the Press.”

Pictured is Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Ala.) Sunday on NBC News' Meet the Press,
Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Ala.) told NBC News on Sunday that the Biden administration’s delay in sending weapons to Ukraine is a “real blunder.”

“​We need to get them what they need now and listen to the Ukrainians not, as he said, the policymakers. They’ve proven their ability to fight bravely, and I think we need to do a much better job. Took nine months to get them the Patriots and I fear the same thing is happening right now with the F-16s​,” the senator said. 

Rep. Michael McCaul, the chair of the House Foreign Relations Committee, said sending Ukraine the warplanes and long-range artillery could give it the fighting edge needed to defeat Russia.

“​T​his whole thing is taking too long. And it really didn’t have to happen this way​,” McCaul (R-Texas) said on ABC News’ “This Week.”

He said while attending the Munich Security Conference earlier this month, a number of top brass in the US military told him they favor sending F-16s and the artillery pieces to take out Iranian drones in Crimea.

“In fact, the word I kept hearing was we need to put everything we have into there. I know the administration says, ‘as long as it takes.’ I think with the right weapons, it shouldn’t take so long,” he said.​

McCaul and Sullivan were reacting to Jake Sullivan, the White House national security adviser, ​who said the US assessment of Ukraine’s military needs points to tanks, armored personnel carriers and air defense systems on the front line. 

Pictured is an F-16 fighter jet.
GOP lawmakers are criticizing the Biden administration for not sending F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine.
AFP via Getty Images

“That’s what we’re giving them, and we’re giving it to them fast. We’re giving it to them in large quantities. And the question of F-16s is really a question for another day, for another phase,” Sullivan said on “Meet the Press.”

“This phase is about ground combat and being able to have the tools in the hands of the Ukrainians to take the territory back that the Russians are occupied​,” he said. ​​

Sullivan also noted Ukrainians are currently flying Soviet-era fighter jets, and that the US and its allies are supplying the parts to keep them in the air. 

​But McCaul said F-16s would make a substantial difference for Ukraine in the war. ​

​”​Because it could travel the entire country with great speed. It can knock out targets​,” he said on ABC.

“​I​f they don’t get the momentum right now with the Russian offensive coming into the country right now, they have a window of time with the counteroffensive. That’s why it’s important. When I talk to these top military officers, give them everything they have – that you can now so they can win this thing​,” McCaul said. ​

​”​When we give them what they can… really use and ask for, they win. When we slow-walk and slow-pace this thing, it drags it out. And that’s precisely what Putin wants​,” he continued. 

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