House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers said Sunday that the United States ought to provide weapons to the Ukrainian army so it could defend the country from a Russian invasion.
“There are things that we can do that I think we’re not doing. I don’t think the rhetoric (from Obama administration officials) matches the reality on the ground,” the Michigan Republican said on NBC’s Meet the Press.
While ruling out the deployment of U.S. military forces in Ukraine, Rogers called for sending small arms and radio equipment that the Ukrainian military could use to “protect and defend themselves. And I think that sends a very clear message.”
Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R- N.H., said Sunday in an interview on CBS’s Face the Nation, that she too supported sending small arms, as well as communications equipment, to the Ukrainian military.
Speaking from Kiev, where she has been meeting with Ukrainian officials, Ayotte also called for Obama to send the guided-missile destroyer USS Truxtun back into the Black Sea as a symbol of American support for Ukraine. The Truxtun left the Black Sea Friday after conducting training exercises with ships from NATO allies Romania and Bulgaria.
Senate Majority Whip Sen. Dick Durbin, D- Ill., said that Ukraine needed U.S. economic aid as well as fuel, tires and other supplies for the Ukrainian military. “It may come to small arms, I’m not ruling that out,” he said on CBS’s Face the Nation.
Russian forces have already moved into the Crimea region of Ukraine, which Russia has annexed.
Speaking from Tblisi, the capital of Georgia, a country that Russian forces invaded in 2008, Rogers said that the Ukrainians “passionately believe” that Russian President Vladimir Putin “will be on the move again in Ukraine, especially in the east.”
He said both Ukrainian and U.S. intelligence officials “believe that Putin is not done in Ukraine. It is very troubling. He has put all the military units he would need to move into Ukraine on its eastern border and is doing exercises.”
If Putin orders Russian forces into the Baltic nations of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania – which are NATO member states and which the United States is obligated by the NATO treaty to defend -- then “we (will) have allowed people who want to be free, who want to be independent, who want to have self-determination, and we’ve turned our back and walked away from them.”
In an apparent allusion to the seizure of Czechoslovakia which was a prelude to Hitler’s invasion of Poland in 1939, Rogers added, “The world did that once – and it was a major catastrophe.”