Top Defense officials insisted that Ukraine will not fall to Russia and they have no reason to believe that US dollars and equipment are being “diverted” for unintended purposes.
Secretary of Defense Policy Colin Kahl also stressed that US F-16 fighter jets are not a top priority for Ukraine and that it would take 18 to 24 months to get them operational in the war zone.
The comments came Tuesday during a House Armed Services Committee (HASC) hearing on oversight of Ukraine.
It comes amid a growing division in the Republican Party between those who favor more aid to Ukraine in its fight against Russia and those who have grown tired of pouring billions into an overseas war that has now lasted more than a year .
US military aid to Ukraine exceeds the cost of Afghanistan. Enough is enough,” tweeted Texas GOP Rep. Troy Nehl’s Tuesday.
Defense Department Inspector General Robert Storch stressed that there are more than 20 ongoing and planned audits and evaluations of the more than $113 billion in combined military, economic and humanitarian aid the U.S. has given Ukraine since the Russian invasion .
He said his agency would have an overview report on aid to Ukraine available in April.
“We don’t see any evidence of distraction in our reporting,” Kahl added. “We think the Ukrainians are making good use of what they have been given.”
But Florida GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz was not convinced. He asked Storch four times in a row to say whether aid to Ukraine complied with End Use Monitoring, a provision of the 1996 gun control law that requires the US to ensure that weapons it hands over to other countries are used for their intended purposes. .
“You cannot testify truthfully under oath that the Department of Defense has adhered to end-use monitoring policies and laws during all times of this conflict, can you?” Gaetz pressed.
“I want to be careful here,” Storch said. “We are conducting a series of evaluations that look at the checks that DOD has in place to make sure they are taking the required steps.”
“You’re dodging the question a bit,” he told Storch as the OIG reiterated that investigations were underway.
“I understand it’s going on – I’m looking back. You can’t testify that everything has complied with the law on final consumption, can you?’ Gaetz said.
“So some of that will end up in the classified report,” Storch said.
Secretary of Defense Policy Colin Kahl stressed that US F-16 fighter jets are not a top priority for Ukraine and it would take 18-24 months to get them operational in the war zone
Defense Department Inspector General Robert Storch stressed that there are more than 20 ongoing and planned audits and evaluations of the more than $113 billion in combined military, economic and humanitarian aid the U.S. has given Ukraine since Russia invaded
“I don’t know why that report is classified. I think the American people deserve to know whether the 1996 law is being enforced,” Gaetz said. “You can’t testify that it’s being followed, so I think they can draw reasonable conclusions from that.”
When asked if the 20 audits did anything to address his concerns, Gaetz told DailyMail.com, “I’ve read the results of some of those audits. And after reading the results, I remain deeply concerned about End Use Monitoring.’
Armed Forces Chairman Rep. Mike Rogers instead criticized President Biden for being “overly concerned that giving Ukraine what it needs to win would be too escalating.”
Democrat ranking member Adam Smith, meanwhile, struck a more cautious tone with the help of Ukraine.
No blank check means no blank check. It means that we don’t just send whatever people ask for in the blink of an eye without even thinking about it. Okay, we’re thinking about it and we’re giving the Ukrainians what they really need,” he said.
Meanwhile, another four lawmakers, mainly on the Armed Services Committee, signed a bipartisan 16-member letter calling on the Biden administration to give Ukraine fourth-generation F-16 fighter jets or similar aircraft.
But Smith threw cold water at the idea of giving Ukraine F-16s.
“We have determined that this is not a wise use of the resources required to win the battle. That’s what no blank check means,” he said.
Kahl had said it would take 18-24 months to get a full fleet of operational F-16s in Ukraine as he said Ukrainians are more concerned about other weapons systems.
“It’s a priority for the Ukrainians, but it’s not one of their top three priorities,” Kahl said.
Biden said last Friday that Ukraine “doesn’t need F-16s right now.” Kahl said at the hearing that the US had not started any kind of training of Ukrainian pilots on the F-16.
“I think it’s crazy,” Gaetz told DailyMail.com about the F-16 push from his Armed Forces colleagues.
“I’m concerned when I hear the push (for F-16s) because it seems like the thing immediately preceding sending something to Ukraine is the Biden administration saying we’re not going to do it,” he said. Gaetz.
The Biden administration and Congress have earmarked a whopping $113 billion in US tax dollars for Ukraine in a conflict with no end in sight
“They said that about the stingers, the Abrams, the HIMARS, now they say about the F-16s. Lockheed certainly thinks that there will be f-16s, they are already ramping up production.’
The editorial staff of the Washington Post called Biden to send F-16s, and Senator Lindsey Graham, RS.C. said in a tweet that excluding Biden was “disappointing.”
“It was like grinding teeth with this government to get every weapon system requested by Ukraine to the battlefield.”
On the other hand, Smith defended the Biden administration, arguing “what we are giving Ukraine is those weapons systems that they need.”
“No decision is being made on whether it’s too escalating,” he insisted.
Kahl also pushed back on claims that the Biden administration had been behind the ball to help Ukraine over escalation concerns.
“Overall, I don’t think we’re holding back Ukraine’s security assistance largely for escalating reasons,” he said, adding that he was “relatively comfortable with where we are in the escalating dynamic.”
Kahl, meanwhile, insisted that Ukraine will not lose despite reports that Russia is preparing a spring offensive.
“I think we know one conclusion for sure: Russia lost,” he said. They will emerge from this conflict as a shattered military force.”
“Ukraine is not going to lose,” Kahl said, adding that there could be minor territorial changes in the coming months, but nothing major.
“The Russians don’t have the capacity to take over Ukraine,” he added.
Kahl said he does not expect Russia to use nuclear weapons, even though Vladimir Putin on Tuesday officially signed a bill suspending the New START treaty, Russia’s last permanent arms control treaty with the US.
“We made it very clear to Russia at the highest level that any use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine, on any scale, would be considered a world-changing event,” Kahl said.
He threatened, “Many restrictions we have operated under would no longer apply.”
Kahl said Russia’s suspension of START was Putin’s way of “generating some rhetorical headlines” but will have little practical effect.
But when asked about claims by his GOP colleagues that the Biden administration was too hesitant to provide weapons based on fears of escalation, Gaetz said, “I’m more afraid of nuclear weapons from Russia than broken tanks from Russia.” .’