- McCarthy says Russia “probably” wouldn’t have invaded Ukraine if US had acted sooner to arm Kyiv.
- “Ukraine was craving the ability to defend themselves,” the GOP leader said on “Fox News Sunday.”
- Since the conflict began on Feb. 24, the Biden administration has sent nearly $3 billion in aid to Ukraine.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy on Sunday suggested that the Biden administration was too slow in providing arms to Ukraine, arguing that if weaponry had been given to Kyiv sooner, then Russia “probably” wouldn’t have invaded the country.
During an appearance on “Fox News Sunday,” the California Republican told chief Washington correspondent Mike Emanuel that while the United States is not deploying troops to the country, the administration should have been more vigilant about sending weapons overseas.
“This is going to get stronger and rougher and what really needs to happen is, Ukraine is not asking for American men and women to fight, all they’re asking for is the weapons to defend themselves,” he said. “If we would have taken those actions earlier instead of waiting till after Russia invaded, they probably never would’ve invaded had we done that sooner.”
McCarthy contended that if weapons had been transported to Ukraine earlier, then “thousands of lives” could have been spared.
“Ukraine was craving the ability to defend themselves,” he said. “Had we moved the weapons to Ukraine earlier, that they could defend themselves, it would have saved thousands of lives and probably the decision of Putin not to enter.”
Since the beginning of the conflict — which began on February 24 — the Biden administration has been a staunch supporter of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and his government, sending nearly $3 billion to the country as they have faced off against Russian President Vladimir Putin’s military forces.
The US also has sent over 1,400 Stinger anti-aircraft systems, more than 5,000 Javelin anti-armor systems, and an additional 7,000 anti-armor systems to Ukraine since the conflict began, among other critical military assistance, according to the Department of Defense.
In addition, the administration has sent over 50 million rounds of ammunition and laser-guided rocket systems, along with small arms and counter-mortar radar systems.
However, McCarthy chided the administration for not permitting the transfer of MiG-29 fighter jets to Poland. US lawmakers have noted that the transfer of MiG-29 fighter jets is something for allies, such as Poland, to decide.
“It’s not our decision to make, it’s Poland’s decision, and there’s a question as to how effective they would be,” Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut, a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, previously said.
But, last month, the Pentagon rejected an offer from Poland to transfer MiG-29 fighter jets to the United States’ Ramstein Air Base in Germany. At the time, Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said the proposal “raises serious concerns for the entire NATO alliance.”
McCarthy said the move was a missed opportunity to provide additional assistance.
“The president denied Ukraine and denied Poland for providing MiGs to Ukraine to protect themselves on a flyover. All of that is a wrong action going forward,” he said.