Amid news that the White House will finally grant Ukraine’s long-sought request for F-16s, some Democrats in Congress are pushing for a more aggressive U.S. policy on Ukraine.
“We need to expedite the transfer of the Abrams tanks,” Congressman Jason Crow, D-Colo., said in an interview, referring to 31 tanks the U.S. will send Ukraine this fall, after months of debate.
“You can’t tell me that using the Defense Production Act, and using other tools and American ingenuity and innovation, that we can’t figure out how to transfer 31 tanks before September,” Crow said.
Putin is taking the “long view” on Ukraine, Crow said, arguing for a similarly long-term U.S. investment—including help modernizing the Ukrainian army so the country becomes a “porcupine that can’t be swallowed.”
Crow isn’t alone in wanting a more assertive U.S. foreign policy. Senior Democrats in Congress, while broadly supportive of the extent to which the White House has backed Ukraine against Russia, have indicated they’d like to see the Biden administration move faster on sending certain types of weapons to Ukraine.
On May 16, Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., signaled his interest in granting another long-standing request of Kyiv’s. “If our cluster munitions could bring the war to a conclusion sooner, it’s something I’m open to,” Smith, ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, said at a Council on Foreign Relations event.
Cluster munitions, which Russia has long used in Ukraine, are controversial because dud rounds can later harm civilians. U.S. military officials have said they would be useful for Ukraine, three congressional aides told Defense One, but the Biden administration has remained mute on their transfer.
At the same time, Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, has spoken in favor of sending longer range ATACM missiles to Ukraine, a policy Sens Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., back as well.
Crow also supports sending non-combatant observers to Ukraine. Asked about calls to send battlefield observers to learn “through direct observation and communication with Ukrainian forces,” he responded enthusiastically.
“I love that idea, actually,” Crow said. “We’re past the point where it’s just us imparting our wisdom and skills. We have a lot to learn from them.”
And while some have opposed sending more weapons to Ukraine because of fears that the weapons will be lost, Crow noted that when Russian forces shot down Ukrainian helicopters carrying U.S. weapons, the Ukrainians immediately provided the weapons’ serial numbers in case some survived and ended up in Russian hands.
“When you’re fighting for your own survival and survival of your children,” Crow said, “you tend not to tolerate malfeasance.”