Representative Michael McCaul (R-TX) said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week” that “with enough pressure from Congress on both sides of the aisle,” President Joe Biden can be persuaded to give Ukraine F-16 fighter jets.
Partial transcript as follows:
MARTHA RADDATZ: The chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Congressman Michael McCaul who led his own delegation to Kyiv just one day after President Biden’s visit this week. Congressman McCaul joins us now. Good to see you. We’ve all been in Ukraine this week. You met with President Zelenskyy, you said in Ukraine while you were there that you’re seeing increasing momentum towards getting long range missiles and F-16. You heard what President Biden said. You heard what Jake Sullivan said. It doesn’t look like it.
MCCAUL: Yeah, that’s unfortunate. I was at the Munich Security Conference, met a lot of the high ranking military officials, including our Supreme Allied Commander, they’re all in favor of us putting not only F-16s in but longer range artillery to take out the Iranian drones in Crimea. In fact, the word I kept hearing was we need to put everything we have into there. I know the administration says, ‘as long as it takes,’ I think with the right weapons, it shouldn’t take so long and quite frankly, Martha, this whole thing is taking too long. And it really didn’t have to happen this way.
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RADDATZ: But you heard Jake Sullivan say: look, our military is looking at the ground. What they need right now is tanks what they need is infantry. Why do you think F 16s would make a difference?
MCCAUL: Because it could travel the entire country with great speed. It can knock out targets. It can’t protect the country —
RADDATZ: Also it can get shot down. There are a lot of air defenses especially over on the border.
MCCAUL: It could. And you know, but the fact is, if we don’t give every — if they don’t get the momentum right now with the Russian offensive coming into the country right now, they have a window of time with the counteroffensive. That’s why it’s important. When I talk to these top military officers, give them everything they have — that you can now so they can win this thing.
When we give them what they can — what they can really use and ask for, they win. When we slow-walk and slow-pace this thing, it drags it out. And that’s precisely what Putin wants.
RADDATZ: What could you do at this point as chair, at this point legislatively? Is there really anything you could do?
MCCAUL: Yeah. Well, we can certainly write into our appropriations bills prioritizing weapons systems. We intend to do that. But in addition, Martha, this was a bipartisan delegation to Munich. My delegation in Ukraine all agreed with Zelenskyy that the ATACMS and the F-16s were appropriate right now. I talked to General Milley last night. I don’t think it’s off the table. I think with enough pressure from Congress on both sides of the aisle, we can get into Ukraine what they really need to win this fight. Otherwise, what are we doing in Ukraine?
RADDATZ: And even if they don’t want them now, do you think they should start training?
MCCAUL: For God’s sakes. I mean, it takes three to six months to train. We need to do this now. And I know the argument is, well, we need to look at the budget effectives. Do you heard with the Abrams tanks? They won’t go in for another year. I’ve met with the Ukrainians being trained by the Poles on the Leopard tanks, which will go in in two weeks as this offensive takes place. Two weeks. That’s going to be a bit of a game changer as well. And I hope we can change the course and directions the administration has with respect to the military strategy.
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