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Rubio Joins Top Congressional Republicans in Urging Austin, Blinken to Quickly Send Much-Needed Military Equipment to Ukraine
Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) joined top Senate and House Republicans in sending a letter to U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken urging the officials to make quick and decisive use of emergency funds provided by Congress to support the Ukrainian Armed Forces against Vladimir Putin’s unwarranted and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. In their letter, the lawmakers recommended this new emergency funding be directed to key weapons and equipment that the Ukrainian Armed Forces have already been using to great effect, such as additional Stinger missile systems, Javelin anti-tank command launch units and missiles, grenade launchers and ammunition, small arms and ammunition, and secure communications.
Rubio is Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and a senior member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.
Joining Rubio in signing the letter were Senators Jim Risch (R-ID), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, and Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Armed Services, along with U.S. Representatives Mike Rogers (R-AL), Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee, Michael McCaul (R-TX), Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Michael Turner (R-OH), Ranking Member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
“We write to urge the Departments of Defense and State to rapidly exercise the authority Congress provided in the omnibus appropriations bill to provide a robust package of lethal and nonlethal aid to Ukraine based on assessed and anticipated military efficacy,” the lawmakers wrote. “This will ensure Ukraine’s military and security forces remain armed and provisioned to sustain their successful attempts to repel and disrupt Russia’s illegal, unprovoked, and unprecedented invasion.
“Given the way the conflict is progressing, and in light of insights gleaned since Russia began its invasion, we call upon the Departments to make use of the emergency funding without delay,” the lawmakers continued.
The full text of the letter is below.
Dear Secretary Austin and Secretary Blinken:
We write to urge the Departments of Defense and State to rapidly exercise the authority Congress provided in the omnibus appropriations bill to provide a robust package of lethal and nonlethal aid to Ukraine based on assessed and anticipated military efficacy. This will ensure Ukraine’s military and security forces remain armed and provisioned to sustain their successful attempts to repel and disrupt Russia’s illegal, unprovoked, and unprecedented invasion.
On March 10, Congress showed strong unified support to Ukraine by passing an emergency supplemental that includes $3 billion in direct authority and funding to deliver military aid—roughly double what the Administration requested—and approximately $14 billion in total to provide humanitarian aid and bolster the efforts of the United States and our allies to sustain Ukraine’s ability to defend itself while also deterring against Russia expanding its aggression. Given the way the conflict is progressing, and in light of insights gleaned since Russia began its invasion, we call upon the Departments to make use of the emergency funding without delay.
Over the past two weeks, we have witnessed numerous open sources reporting that U.S. military assistance, including defensive lethal aid, continues to reach Ukrainian Armed Forces units, and that those units have successfully employed them to repel and inhibit Russian advances. This has been particularly evident for anti-tank and anti-air weapons systems. The expenditure rate for such munitions is high. As the invasion drags on, Russia will reorganize, resupply, consolidate its forces, and modify its tactics in an attempt to violently accelerate its advances. Ukrainian forces will likely have to expend munitions from these and other weapons at an increasing rate—meaning the need for restocking will only grow more urgent with each passing day.
Many of our allies have also made significant contributions to supplying Ukrainian efforts, including the provision of anti-tank and anti-air systems and large quantities of both ammunition and protective equipment. For these reasons, and for reasons we expand upon in a classified annex to this letter, Congress increased funding for our NATO Allies and partners who are not only making outsize contributions to Ukraine’s own defense, but who themselves are depleting their own stocks while in close proximity to Russian aggression.
In addition to the funding increases to directly support Ukraine’s continued defense and to backfill our stocks and those of our allies and partners, Congress also expanded the authority of the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative to enable previously authorized and appropriated USAI funding to be dedicated not only to conventional Ukrainian armed forces’ efforts, but also to organizations supporting resistance efforts as needed. Providing this expanded flexibility further illustrates Congress’s will to do everything we can to support Ukrainians defending their territory.
Given the heroic efforts and success Ukrainian armed forces have had employing specific weapons systems delivered by the U.S. and our allies and partners, as well as additional reasons articulated in the classified annex accompanying this letter, we recommend the Departments rapidly take the following actions, in priority order:
- Immediately deliver additional Stinger missile systems and munitions to the Ukrainian armed forces and engage with allies and partners to deliver Soviet- or Russian-made strategic and tactical air defense systems and associated radars to Ukraine. This should be followed by discussions regarding near-term U.S. force posture moves to mitigate air defense shortfalls in such allied and partner countries and eventual backfill with like capabilities.
- Immediately deliver as many additional Javelin anti-tank command launch units (CLUs) and missiles as possible.
- Immediately deliver as much of the following types of aid as possible:
a. Grenade launchers and ammo
b. Small arms and ammo
c. Artillery systems, Multiple Launch Rocket Systems, mortars and ammo
d. Machine guns and ammo
e. First aid kits
f. Small UAS
g. Secure communications
h. Binoculars and thermal imaging cameras
k. Potable water systems
l. Field feeding equipment and MREs
m. Gas masks and chemical protective equipment
n. Tractors, loaders, and excavators
- In the near term, engage with allies and partners who have delivered their own munitions and equipment to determine what the U.S. can rapidly help backfill, including small arms and light weapons ammunition and higher-end weapons systems; as well as consider where U.S.-produced weapons systems could replace legacy systems whose stocks are now largely depleted.
- In the near term, support the delivery of Polish MiG-29s to Ukraine and re-engage Warsaw on options to backfill their fleet of fighter jets. We encourage the Departments to re-evaluate the flawed conclusion that the transfer of these fighter jets to Ukraine would be “escalatory” in comparison to the weapon systems that have already been delivered to Ukraine by the U.S. and our allies and partners.
- In the near term, work with industry to facilitate availability of as much off-the-shelf equipment, or ramp up production of such equipment, as quickly as possible for non-lethal capabilities, including but not limited to: gas masks and chemical protective equipment, body armor, helmets, medical kits, secure communications devices, potable water systems, logistics capabilities including vehicles, and various spare parts. We encourage the Departments to also consider ways in which the emergency supplemental funds might be dedicated to expand production capacity for the above listed or other equipment so that the U.S. may continue to deliver such assistance to Ukraine while upholding inventory standards and contractual commitments for our own military and other national, state, and local entities who require them.
- Report every week to Congress on efforts taken to continue to supply Ukrainian military and security forces; backfill the stocks of allies and partners; and backfill and invest in sustaining and, where necessary, modernizing U.S. military weapons, munitions, and equipment stocks.
We look forward to continuing to work with you to support Ukraine’s defenses, bolster European and Transatlantic security, and deter Russia from expanding its reckless aggression any further.