Wilmington, Del. (AP) — Republican lawmakers on Sunday criticized the Biden administration for not sending F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine, as tensions simmer about whether China could send weapons to help Russia in the year-long war.
But White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said they’re providing Ukraine with the military aid needed to retake territory seized by Russia and that China has yet to supply military equipment. The domestic politics of support for Ukraine are also complicated by some Republican lawmakers who say the administration should pull back and focus more on domestic needs.
Texas Rep. Michael McCaul, chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee, told ABC’s “This Week” that planes and long-range artillery could help end the war on a faster timeline.
“This whole thing is taking too long,” McCaul said. “And it really didn’t have to happen this way.”
Ukraine won support last month from Baltic nations and Poland in its quest to obtain Western fighter jets, but there have been no signs that larger nations like the U.S. and Britain will change their stance of refusing to provide warplanes to Kyiv. Biden said in an ABC News interview on Friday that he’s “ruling it out for now,” saying that they are not the weaponry that Ukrainians need in the near term.
McCaul described the relationship between Russia and China as an “unholy alliance” and stressed the risks that could come from an upcoming meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
On NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, said the White House has been slow in providing the military equipment that Ukraine seeks, including jets. “That has been a pattern with this administration from the beginning, where they have slow-rolled critical military weapons systems,“ he said.
White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said the U.S. is already providing parts to keep Ukraine’s fleet of Soviet-era jets flying, but supplying F-16s “is really a question for another day, for another phase” of the war, he told NBC.
Sullivan also played down tensions about possible Chinese support for Russia’s military.
“We have not seen China yet provide military equipment to Russia for purposes of fighting the war in Ukraine,” Sullivan said.
Sullivan said he does not think it is in China’s interest to provide weapons to Russia, saying it would “alienate them from a number of countries in the world, including our European allies.” He also noted that providing those weapons would put China in a place of “responsibility” for “the kinds of war crimes and bombardment of civilians and atrocities that the Russians are committing in Ukraine,” though he said the choice ultimately belongs to China.
China has submitted the outlines of a peace plan between Russia and Ukraine. But Sullivan said that Xi has not spoken with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy since the war began. The Ukrainian leader said he would like to speak with his Chinese counterpart.
“It’s very difficult to advance any kind of peace initiative when there’s that kind of one-sided diplomacy going on,“ Sullivan said.
On Monday, Biden made a surprise visit to Ukraine where he re-affirmed the U.S. commitment. Some Republican lawmakers criticized him for not going instead to East Palestine, Ohio, where a Feb. 3 train derailment has led to concerns about the release of toxic chemicals.
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