Reed Discusses Importance of Standing with Ukraine
REED: I must point out that our support is the leading edge of worldwide support. Our NATO allies have stepped forward, and countries around the globe understand that this battle between democracy and freedom and autocracy and inhumanity must be won.
President Zelenskyy came to this very building 2 weeks ago to ask for our support. He received overwhelming bipartisan promises from Members of both the Senate and the House. Of course, I was proud to pledge my support, and I know nearly all of my Senate colleagues were also.
It is shameful that on the heels of that visit, after looking President Zelenskyy in the eye and promising to stand with him, our House colleagues decided to strip all Ukraine funding from their continuing resolution. That decision contradicts the will of the majority of Congress and the American people, and it breaks faith with the people of Ukraine, who are in a battle to preserve their nation and their lives. And their battle is our battle. Their battle against unprovoked aggression by Putin against a democratic neighbor is a battle that we must ensure they can win because he won't stop there.
We can't allow the obstinacy of a few Members of the House of Representatives to force a cruel deal on those who least deserve it-- the Ukrainian people.
As I said, this conflict matters not just to Ukraine but to our own security here at home. It is clear that if Putin succeeds in Ukraine, he will not stop. He made this clear years ago when he talked about that his mission in life, his sole, overwhelming preoccupation, was to recreate the Russian Empire--the Balkans, parts of Poland, Moldova, Georgia. He is very clear.
It is ironic in history how dictators can be so clear about what they want to do but ignored by people who should stand up to them. Hitler was very explicit in ``Mein Kampf'' on what his goal was. Yet world leaders appeased him. Will we appease Putin and cut off aid to the Ukrainians? If we do, it will be our problem.
He will seek to destabilize other countries in the region, including our NATO allies. If that happens, under article 5 of NATO, we have a legal and moral obligation to go to their aid. That means the blood that will be shed is not Ukrainian blood but the blood of our soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines, guardians, and coastguardsmen. The cost of that, in my view, is priceless.
Our job in some respects is to ensure by our actions here that we continue lowering the probability that American men and women in our service will suffer and die in action. If we renege on our commitment to Ukraine, that probability will go up, not down, and we will regret it immensely.
We have seen colleagues on the other side speak out, but they have to speak out more vigorously.
Leader McConnell said recently: With Ukraine bravely defending its sovereignty and eroding Russia's capacity to threaten NATO, it is not the time to ease up. . . . Helping Ukraine retake its territory means weakening one of America's biggest strategic adversaries without firing a shot. Leader McConnell is right about that, and I admire his forceful and courageous support of the Ukrainian people.
Remember, also, China is watching how the democratic nations of the world respond to Russia. In considering a potential invasion of Taiwan, President Xi is scrutinizing Putin's playbook and the international response, and he has seen things that are potentially encouraging, particularly if the international community simply gives up and allows Ukraine to fall.
The conclusion he likely will draw is that, if I engage and I am persistent enough for long enough, then the political whims in the United States and across the globe will fall behind and they will give up and I will succeed.
The credibility of the U.S. deterrent is only as strong as our actions. Our would-be partners around the world are also watching closely at what we are doing. Will we have their backs if they are attacked? We must show that we are a steadfast ally, not hamstrung by the whims of fringe politicians. Again, our adversaries would see themselves empowered as our alliances dissolve because there is no confidence or a lack of confidence in the United States.
This is especially true when we consider how the Ukrainians have proven, time and time again, that, given the right support, they are entirely capable of defeating the assaults launched against them, and there are a number of reasons for this.
First and foremost is the incredible courage and fighting skill of the Ukrainian people as well as the inspirational leadership of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. I had the opportunity, like so many of my colleagues, to travel to Kyiv earlier this year and was deeply moved by the Ukrainians' bravery and commitment to defending their homeland.
Second is the remarkable statesmanship of President Biden. His administration has forged a unified response, leading the worldwide condemnation of Putin and providing enormous military, economic, and humanitarian support for Ukraine. I doubt if anyone in this Senate, in the weeks before the invasion of Ukraine, would have predicted that NATO would rally as it has to support the Ukrainians; that allies across the globe would dig into their stocks of munitions and transfer them to the Ukrainians; that the whole world would be, in some respects, moved by the actions of our country in standing up and inspiring others to join with us.
We also benefited from 8 years of training of Ukrainian forces, starting in 2014. In fact, I had the first opportunity to meet General Cavoli, our Supreme Allied Commander, when he was a brigadier general in Lviv training Ukrainian soldiers. That training was manifested as they repulsed the Russian assault. It was squad leaders and company commanders and young battalion commanders who had been trained by us and our allies who were able to outfight, outmaneuver, and outthink their Russian adversaries, and they continue to do that.
Finally, Putin's assault has faltered from the inept performance of his own forces. The war has exposed a poorly led and poorly trained Russian Army with corrupt leadership at every level, poor tactics and communication and inept logistics. But people learn from adversity. The Russians are learning, and they are beginning to understand the limitations of their forces. So they are putting them in trenches; they are fortifying the battlefield; they are minimizing any maneuver that they must do because that is a complicated military operation. Then they are throwing in thousands and thousands of poorly trained but still well-armed soldiers.
So we can't assume that their poor performance will last forever. That is another reason we have to continue our support and give our Ukrainian allies all the help they need.
Now, Putin assumed, I believe, that his actions, his quick assault on Kyiv, would drive a wedge within the international community; that we would dither; that we would debate; that we would do nothing. Well, he was badly mistaken. As I indicated before, with the leadership of President Biden and Secretary Blinken and others, NATO has shown a remarkable unity and resolve. And we can't overstate the scale of this importance; that countries that before were unenthusiastic, let me say, about military operations, suddenly began to provide equipment, support, training, raised their budgets, and do so to assist the people of Ukraine. Also, something that goes unstated by so many is that our European allies are also giving tremendous aid to civilian populations that have been displaced and aid to the budget of Ukraine. If you look on a per capita basis of the GDP--I should say the basis of percentage of the GDP--we are not the most generous benefactor of Ukraine; it is the Baltic nations. So this is an unusual worldwide commitment of sacrifice, of resources, in which we are the leader, but many other nations are giving as much, if not more.
Now, Putin, I think, believes he can wait us all out. He can wait for the supplies to be exhausted by the Ukrainians. Oh, and by the way, if we take away our resources, those supplies will be quickly exhausted. But we cannot validate this viewpoint as the Ukrainians have fought too hard and suffered too much to be left alone on the battlefield, to be abandoned.
And just as the Ukrainians have learned and adapted on the battlefield, the effort to aid and equip their security forces has evolved as we have gone forward. Throughout the war, the Biden administration has calibrated our assistance to Ukraine, calibrated in a very difficult situation. We have allies that were somewhat reluctant to move weapons systems in. We have allies that are signatories to the treaty against the use of cluster munitions, which we had to take into account. We have to negotiate between multiple parties that don't have precisely the same viewpoint as we have, but yet we have been able to consistently support, train, equip, and provide the resources necessary for the Ukrainian forces to begin their counteroffensive, which they did weeks ago; to continue their fight through this winter and position them, we hope, for a decisive action as soon as possible.
We have committed tremendous amounts of security assistance, including advanced air defense systems equipment, and we remain keen that we look ahead to provide the most modern weapons systems that the Ukrainians can use. Many people forget the training that is necessary to use sophisticated weapons systems. Many people forget that the key to maneuver operations is a rather sophisticated coordination between ground forces, heavy armored forces, artillery support, air support when available. All of these things are not something that one just does naturally. It takes training. It takes repeated attempts. Fortunately, for us, the Ukrainians are so dedicated to their country that they are committing their all to use our equipment effectively.
I will also note that the supplemental funding that we have brought has allowed us to invest more money and create more jobs right here in the United States as U.S. defense industry partners ramp up production to meet Ukraine's needs and to backfill our own munitions supplies.
Indeed, what we have found is, really, a new type of warfare. We had become accustomed for decades to have complete air superiority when we fought, to have precision weapons that were so accurate that the battles we fought were weeks: Desert Storm, Iraqi Freedom, the first phase of the battlefield in Afghanistan. So we didn't think we needed a large-scale munitions production. The type of warfare we are seeing now, which very well might be the type of warfare we encounter in the future, requires an industrial base that can provide adequate ammunition, an adequate supply of equipment. We have started that process. One aspect is multiyear contracts now for munitions so that there is a demand that producers understand and will fulfill.
Now, some have said our response has been too slow and that we should have given more weaponry or better weaponry, et cetera. Well, those people who have criticized the President about their claims of slowness should be outraged at the House, which is demanding we stop it all. They should raise their voices now, strongly, emphatically, to tell the House: We must have Ukrainian aid approved, and we must do it quickly.
Throughout the war in Ukraine, President Biden has led the United States and the international community with admirable resolve. Congress must send a strong message to Putin that Americans continue to stand in solidarity with the people of Ukraine and that we are committed to supporting them as they fight bravely to defend their homeland.
The simple truth is that their battle is our battle. If they lose, Americans lose, and the likelihood that our young men and women will be called upon to enter the fray increases dramatically. We must support our Ukrainian allies.