By Daniel Hersh
WASHINGTON — Senators on the Foreign Relations Committee said Tuesday they were baffled by what they perceived as a lack of U.S. action in helping Ukraine.
In a hearing held Tuesday morning, committee members expressed confusion and frustration at slow-moving diplomacy in Eastern Europe. Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., said that the decision to send military aid to Ukraine is supported by both houses of Congress, but nothing has been done.
The committee’s chairman, Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., said that the U.S. needs to provide military help to Ukraine, not simply in order to defeat the Russian invasion, but to ensure Ukraine can defend itself and move toward peace.
Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., agreed: “We have to provide a military response.”
The State Department’s Victoria Nuland emphasized the need for Ukraine to succeed economically through reform and eliminating corruption.
“The best antidote to Russian oppression is for Ukraine to succeed as a free market state,” Nuland said.
She added that Putin is trying to regain control of former Soviet nations and “roll back the gains” of European diplomatic progress.
Ramin Toloui of the Department of Treasury said that the Ukrainian government merits continued support “not only from the United States, but from other countries as well.”
Nuland’s testimony highlighted the economic support that has been provided to Ukraine – including a $1 billion loan guarantee last year that has helped reform the Ukrainian government.
But the U.S. has not sent any military aid.
“What is going on with the administration?” Menendez asked. “It’s incredibly frustrating for all of us to think the administration truly supports Ukraine, and yet it feels like they’re playing footsy with Russia.”
Both committee members and some of the expert witnesses acknowledged they were irritated that the U.S. seems to not act, despite congressional support to provide arms to the war-torn country.
“Because of the intransigence of this administration, it seems to me that all of a sudden, we’re in an era where our allies don’t trust us and our enemies don’t fear us,” said Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga.
Brian McKeon of the Department of Defense said the U.S. is concerned about the negative effects of Russian actions not only in Ukraine but along the borders of European countries.
“It’s the core of the reason that we have taken a lot of reassurance measures,” He said
The senators pressed panelists for more than two hours, failing to get many answers.