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Turner, Himes, Connolly Lead Bipartisan Letter Urging Secretary Lloyd Austin to Expedite Resources to Ukraine As War Continues

Today, Congressman Mike Turner (OH-10), Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and head of the U.S. delegation to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, Congressman Jim Himes (CT-04), Ranking Member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and Congressman Gerry Connolly (VA-11), past president of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, were joined by their colleagues on a bipartisan letter to Department of Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin urging the Biden Administration to expedite additional resources to Ukraine.

After meeting with a delegation of Ukrainian parliamentarians, the congressional lawmakers emphasized that in order for Ukraine to better defend itself against Russia, the United States should authorize the use of weapons by Ukraine that would allow its military to strike strategic targets within Russia, train additional Ukrainian F-16 pilots, and bolster Ukraine's air defense systems.

The signatories of the letter also included Congressman Darin LaHood (IL-16), Congressman Neal Dunn (FL-02), Congresswoman Linda Sánchez (CA-38), Congressman Rick Larsen (WA-02), Congressman Jason Crow (CO-06), Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01), Congressman Brendan Boyle (PA-02), Congressman French Hill (AR-02), Congressman Austin Scott (GA-08), and Congressman AndréCarson (IN-07).

Read the full letter here or below.

Dear Secretary Austin,

We write in our capacity as members of the U.S. House of Representatives to convey our strong support of several urgent requests on behalf of our Ukrainian colleagues:

(1) Authorizing the Use of U.S.-Provided Weapons to Strike Strategic Targets within Russian Territory Under Certain Circumstances: Our Ukrainian allies are requesting permission to use certain weapons provided by the United States to conduct operations on strategic targets inside Russian and Russian-controlled territory. According to a May 14threport by Politico, the Biden Administration’s current policy is handcuffing Ukraine’s ability to push back on Russian forces near Kharkiv with U.S.-origin weapons. Ukrainian officials have watched for weeks as Russian troops have attacked Ukrainian communities from Russian territory with impunity. Ukrainians have been unable to defend themselves due to the Administration’s current policy. It is essential the Biden Administration allows Ukraine’s military leaders an ability to conduct a full spectrum of operations necessary to respond to Russia’s unprovoked attack on their sovereign land.

(2) Training Additional F-16 Pilots: Last year, the Biden Administration approved the transfer of F-16 fighter jets to replace Ukraine’s aging and declining fleet of MiG-29s, Su-24s, and Su-25s. While this was an encouraging step, there remains a critical need for a substantial number of trained pilots to operate these aircraft as the F-16 fighter jets become available to Ukraine. According to the U.S. Air Force, the U.S. is on track to graduate only 12 pilots from F-16 training by the end of 2024. Graduating 12 Ukrainian pilots is simply insufficient. Ukraine is at war and slots for Ukraine must be prioritized over other foreign countries.

(3) Air Defenses: Ukraine has demonstrated an ability to take out a sizeable percentage of Russian missiles fired at Ukrainian territory. However, Russian missiles continue to rain down on large urban areas, leaving a significant number of innocent civilians and critical infrastructure in danger. To meet this continued and unrelenting threat, our allies have requested upwards of seven (7) additional Patriot batteries to protect large urban areas in Ukraine.

The Ukrainian people continue to demonstrate a strong willingness to resist Russian efforts to take sovereign Ukrainian territory by force. Recent reports indicate that aid to Ukraine is not arriving in sufficient quantities and in a timely manner, exacerbating the dire situation on the ground. Ukrainian officials have expressed grave concerns, stating that the situation is worse than ever.We ask that you work with us to expedite resources as our friends in Ukraine continue to defend their territory against Russia’s brutal assault and aggression.