Senate Must Act Swiftly to Support American Military Superiority, Deter Aggressors
‘We need to act quickly and pass a defense authorization bill that restores our readiness, grows our stockpiles of critical munitions, reinforces our position along NATO’s Eastern Flank, and lays the foundations for a new era of credible deterrence in Asia by modernizing and equipping our military for real competition with China. I hope the Democratic Leader will let the Senate take action on this critical legislation without further delay.’
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding Ukraine:
“Yesterday, I had the honor of greeting the first lady of Ukraine, Olena Zelenska, who visited us here in the Capitol.
“Like my colleagues in the room, I was moved by her blunt, plaintive remarks to Congress.
“As her country endures the fifth month of a brutal Russian siege, Ms. Zelenska was candid about the pain and suffering Russia’s unprovoked war of aggression was causing across her homeland.
“‘Russia is destroying our people.’
“The first lady conveyed the incredible determination of the Ukrainian people and echoed their simple request: for the tools to fight their own fight. ‘Weapons,’ she said, ‘to protect one’s home and the right to wake up alive in that home.’
“I hope the first lady’s visit helped steel our colleagues’ resolve as friends of Ukraine. Russia’s invasion has already reminded the West that revisionist aggressors cannot be appeased. And Ukraine’s brave resistance, equipped with the arsenal of the free world, is a further reminder that this is a fight they intend to win.
“The Senate should be proud of our work over the past several months to get more lethal capabilities into Ukrainian hands. But at every step of the way the Biden Administration has been slow to green-light the game-changing weapons Ukraine’s frontline defenders need.
“I urged the President for more than a year to take specific actions to deter Russian aggression against Ukraine before it escalated.
“Last June, I urged him to deliver lethal capabilities to Ukraine and other states in Vladimir Putin’s crosshairs. Instead, the Administration slow-walked security assistance for months.
“In December, I called for U.S. military reinforcements along NATO’s eastern flank. But the President waited until February to deploy forces – too late to deter Putin’s aggression.
“And even after Russia had launched its unlawful invasion, the President has repeatedly deterred himself from providing Ukraine the capabilities it needs.
“With nearly every weapons system requested by Ukraine, the cycle in Washington plays out like this:
“First, hesitation and concern. Then, excuses that Ukraine couldn’t effectively use the proposed weapons. Or objections that providing them would escalate the conflict. Then, grudging willingness to transfer the weapons.
“And finally, with weapons in Ukrainian hands, self-congratulations from the Biden Administration that they’re having a positive impact on the battlefield.
“It is exhausting to watch this decision-making cycle repeat itself from Kentucky. It must be exasperating to watch it from Kyiv.
“Madam President, the need for advanced, longer-range weapons to turn back Russia’s aggression is painfully obvious.
“Air defense capabilities to combat Russia’s continuing long-range strikes against civilian populations across Ukraine…
“Anti-ship weapons to combat the Russia’s Black Sea blockade, and the humanitarian food crisis it’s causing worldwide…
“And more capable, longer-range artillery to pound Russian positions in occupied Ukraine from relative safety. This will help offset any numerical advantage Russia has achieved by pumping so much combat power into its invasion force.
“Putin cannot be allowed to believe he can just wait for the West to get complacent.
“It would do a moral disservice to the brave Ukrainians fighting every day for their country. But this is not just about Ukraine’s security. If Russia achieves its objectives in Ukraine, it will imperil our own security.
“And if we waver on Ukraine, it would certainly send an unmistakable signal of weakness to Beijing, which is watching the conflict in Ukraine closely.
“For their part, so are our friends and allies in China’s backyard. As Japan’s Prime Minister put it back in May, ‘Ukraine might be east Asia tomorrow.’
“Madam President, Russia’s brutal war has cost the people of Ukraine their homes, their safety, and their lives. But it’s also reawakened the West to the reality of long-term deterrence and competition.
“It’s led modern partners like Sweden and Finland to cast their lot with the greatest military alliance in the history of the world. And it’s prompted current treaty allies to shake off years of neglect for their own defensive capabilities. All of this will result in greater burden-sharing, interoperability, military capability, and collective security for the NATO alliance.
“The United States cannot afford to neglect this lesson, ourselves. As the leader of the free world and the number one target of revisionist adversaries like China and Russia, we have to take seriously our obligation to maintain America’s military superiority.
“We need to act quickly and pass a defense authorization bill that restores our readiness, grows our stockpiles of critical munitions, reinforces our position along NATO’s Eastern Flank, and lays the foundations for a new era of credible deterrence in Asia by modernizing and equipping our military for real competition with China.
“I hope the Democratic Leader will let the Senate take action on this critical legislation without further delay.”