Senate Must Act Quickly on Sweden, Finland NATO Accession and Bipartisan NDAA
‘American leadership in the world has made possible the peace and security our country enjoys today. That leadership is helping encourage our allies to make sufficient investments in their own capabilities to face down shared threats. But American leadership is only as strong as our willingness to make robust investments in our own capabilities... So there is no time to waste on either of these measures - neither the Sweden and Finland protocols nor a strong, bipartisan NDAA.’
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding NATO and Ukraine:
“This past Saturday brought yet another escalation in Russia’s brutal war in Ukraine.
“The ink had barely dried on a deal securing safe passage for Ukrainian grain exports when Russian missiles hit the port city of Odessa.
“Ukraine produces one fifth of the world’s high-grade wheat. Russia’s Black Sea blockade and destruction of Ukraine’s crops have left vulnerable regions of the world on the verge of crisis.
“But Vladimir Putin only managed to resist the urge to commit senseless violence for about 24 hours.
“Now, the fact that Putin was even compelled to negotiate was thanks to the introduction of HIMARS long-range rockets and HARPOON anti-ship missiles into Ukraine’s arsenal.
“If Ukraine had had weapons like these earlier, the blockade of Odessa could have been prevented in the first place.
“The Biden Administration says its decision-making throughout this process has been deliberate and nuanced.
“History will likely judge otherwise. The months before Putin’s escalation clearly called for boldness and resolve. To say nothing of the months since. But too often, the Administration’s first instincts have been to plod along slowly and vacillate.
“The Ukrainians have fought bravely to stop Russia’s advance despite being undermanned and outgunned. Just think what they could have accomplished if the West had acted boldly to support Ukraine as storm clouds were first gathering, or right away when the storm broke.
“By now, no one should need a reminder of the far-reaching impacts of war in Ukraine.
“Our Eastern Flank allies certainly don’t. They’ve been preparing to defend themselves for generations. And from the beginning of Russia’s latest offensive, they’ve reached deep into their own inventories to help equip Ukraine.
“Elsewhere in Europe, treaty allies have finally taken an important lesson about investing in deterrence and self-defense to heart.
“Countries like Germany have made historic commitments to increase military spending. The Germans, Swedes, and others have also broken historic precedent to share their stockpiles with Ukraine.
“And of course, Russia’s war has led other major European states to announce their intention to join the ranks of the strongest alliance in world history.
“Last week, our colleagues on the Foreign Relations Committee advanced the necessary protocols to ratify Sweden’s and Finland’s accession to NATO.
“There is now nothing preventing the Democratic Leader from calling these measures up for immediate consideration and passage by the full Senate. The legislatures of other NATO allies like Canada, Norway, Poland, and Germany have already ratified them.
“The United States would be fortunate to have two new treaty allies as impressive and capable as Finland and Sweden. Both countries’ high-tech economies and extensive American-made systems will improve the alliance’s interoperability and instantly improve the state of burden-sharing the day they come in.
“American leadership in the world has made possible the peace and security our country enjoys today. That leadership is helping encourage our allies to make sufficient investments in their own capabilities to face down shared threats.
“But American leadership is only as strong as our willingness to make robust investments in our own capabilities.
“President Biden has submitted defense budget requests that fail to keep pace with growing threats and fail to keep pace with the Democrats’ own inflation. And Senate Democrats are giving short shrift to the need for a strong, bipartisan defense authorization bill.
“Russian aggression isn’t the only threat to American interests today. Rogue states like Iran and North Korea continue to march toward devastating weapons. China’s provocative behavior in the Indo-Pacific continues to raise the stakes for long-term competition.
“So there is no time to waste on either of these measures – neither the Sweden and Finland protocols nor a strong, bipartisan NDAA.”
Related Issues: House Democrats, China, Russia, Senate Democrats, National Security, Iran, NDAA, Economy