Democrats in Congress are divided on whether or not to send Ukraine the longer-range and more advanced weaponry that it’s seeking, The Hill reported on Sunday.
Among Ukraine’s requests for new weapons is the Army Tactical Missile System, or ATACMS, which has a range of about 190 miles. The missiles have a significantly longer range than anything Washington has provided Kyiv to this point.
Russia has warned that if the US sends Ukraine longer-range weapons, it would cross a “red line” and require a response from Moscow. The Biden administration has been hesitant to send the ATACMS over concerns of provoking a response from Moscow, but it is under increasing pressure from Congress.
Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-NJ) said the US should send the longer-range weapons since Russia hasn’t taken any action against the US or its NATO allies in response to the current levels of support. He said that support hasn’t “caused Putin to do any of the insane things that some people feared that he would.”
Rep. Jason Crowe (D-CO) also favors sending Ukraine longer-range weapons and said he received assurances from a Ukrainian presidential official that they wouldn’t be used to target Russian territory.
“He said outright they would not use these systems to attack Russian territory. They know that we’re their biggest patron and supporter and they’re not going to jeopardize that,” Crowe said in comments to The Hill.
When the US first sent HIMARS rocket systems that have a range of 50 miles to Ukraine, the Biden administration said it received assurances that they wouldn’t be used to hit targets inside Russia, although that restriction doesn’t appear to apply to Crimea. But with referendums to join Russia being held in Russian-controlled areas of Ukraine, Moscow will soon consider attacks on those areas as attacks on Russian territory.
Other Democratic lawmakers who spoke with The Hill said they shared the Biden administration’s concerns about possible escalations with Russia, including Rep. Gregory Meeks, who said he didn’t want the US to look like the “aggressor.”