Rep. Mike Turner says the Ukrainian government has asked the Obama administration to give its military weapons in its standoff with Russian forces. And the expected candidate to take the House Armed Services Committee gavel is demanding the White House explain a few things.
In a letter the Ohio Republican sent President Barack Obama on Wednesday, Turner dropped this nugget: “It has come to my attention that the Armed Forces of Ukraine have recently provided your administration with an urgent needs list containing requests for both lethal and nonlethal items.”
The White House for weeks has stressed nonlethal military items like radios, vehicles, explosive ordnance disposal equipment, and Meals Ready to Eat (MREs) have been atop Kiev’s wishlist. Turner’s letter suggests that is changing as allegedly Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine continue gaining ground — with tens of thousands of Russian soldiers camped out on their side of the border.
Members of Congress and senior staffers on both sides of the aisle are increasingly outspoken in private conversations about what they collectively describe as the Obama administration’s lack of communication with Capitol Hill. On Ukraine, Turner wants that to change.
“I respectfully ask that Congress be immediately briefed on your response to the Ukraine request as well as be provided information indicating which particular items the United States does or does not plan to supply to Ukrainian forces and why,” Turner wrote Obama.
“While the United States has taken some action to supply Ukrainian forces with basic nonlethal assistance, these actions have been slow to occur and extremely limited in nature,” he wrote. “I believe your administration needs to immediately revise its existing strategy on military assistance to Ukraine in order to effect real change and alter Russian military thinking.”
Turner has been much more outspoken on the Russian issue than the other top GOP contenders to replace retiring Rep. Buck McKeon, R-Calif., as HASc chairman next year, Reps. Mac Thornberry of Texas and Randy Forbes of Virginia. The letter is his latest call for Obama to get tougher with Moscow.
“The United States and NATO allies can no longer standby and simply observe as the situation will only further deteriorate,” he wrote. “Moving forward, it is clear that Ukrainian forces need further military assistance in order to contain Russian orchestrated unrest and repel [any] potential military action within Ukraine.”