U.S. Lawmakers Call On Obama To Provide Lethal Aid To Ukraine

WASHINGTON, DC -- House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) and a bipartisan group of top lawmakers are calling on the White House to quickly provide lethal aid to Ukraine to combat Russian efforts to destabilize the region.

House Speaker John Boehner, pictured above, and a bipartisan group of senior lawmakers are urging the Obama administration to supply lethal aid quickly to Kiev.

Mr. Boehner, along with House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.) and top Democrats and Republicans from a handful of key congressional committees, said in a letter to President Barack Obama dated Wednesday that the U.S. needs immediately to provide “lethal defensive weapons systems” to Ukrainian forces.

Noting lawmakers acted last year to give the administration the authority to provide additional military aid to Ukraine’s government, the letter urged Mr. Obama “in the strongest possible terms” to quickly provide more aid.

“We should not wait until Russian troops and their separatist proxies take Mariupol or Kharkiv before we act to bolster the Ukrainian government’s ability to deter and defend against further aggression,” the lawmakers wrote.

A cease-fire accord signed in February has done little to settle tensions in the region, though major fighting between Ukrainian forces and Russia-backed separatists have subsided in some areas of the country.

Both sides in the conflict have said they are following provisions of the deal requiring them to pull back heavy weapons, though outside observers said this week they cannot verify whether that is actually happening.

The White House is considering the option of providing Kiev with defense weaponry, including systems that could be used to repel armored equipment, such as tanks.

Several top U.S. defense and intelligence officials, including Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, have said publicly they favor the option.

The recent moderation in levels of violence have reduced pressure for an immediate move, although officials have said it remains under consideration.

Democrats and Republicans alike have urged the Obama administration more forcefully to counter Russia over its move to annex Crimea and the continuing conflict in Ukraine.

Mr. Boehner and other lawmakers signing Wednesday’s letter said the situation goes beyond a “Russian assault on the independence and sovereignty of Ukraine.”

“It is a grotesque violation of international law, a challenge to the West and an assault on the international order established at such great cost in the wake of World War II,” the lawmakers wrote.

Those signing the letter included the chairmen and ranking Democrats of the House Armed Services, Foreign Affairs, and Intelligence committees, as well as three top members of the House Appropriations Committee.

Source: The Wall Street Journal