Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates criticized the Biden administration for the pace of approving the weapons system. UkraineGiven that the conflicted country is the “most important” foreign policy issue facing the United States “right now.”
In an interview with “Face the Nation” that aired Sunday, Gates said the intelligence the Biden administration released to Ukraine and its NATO allies in the lead-up to the Russian invasion was “very important.” He called the administration’s ability to assemble a coalition in support of Ukraine “very impressive.”
But the administration is dragging its feet on providing Ukraine with weapons systems such as tanks, rocket launchers and fighter jets, Gates said.
“There has been a debate for a long time: should we send tanks?” Gates said. “Well, finally, we sent tanks. Do we send things like HIMARS and other types of capabilities? And we finally did, but after months and months of indecision. They were worried, talking about the F-16 for many, many months, and Now that we’ve heard better, we’re going to go ahead and allow the F-16 to train. Well, that’s a decision that could have been made six months ago.”
President Biden told allies on Friday that he was Approving plans to train Ukrainian pilots on F-16 fighter jetsAccording to a senior administration official. The decision was another shift by the Biden administration to provide more advanced weapons systems to Ukraine, which has long insisted it is sending enough weapons to the country to defend itself, amid concerns that Ukraine would use advanced weapons on Russian soil.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has repeatedly asked Western allies for fighter jets. As Ukraine improves its air defenses and prepares to launch a counteroffensive against Russia, officials believe the fighter jets could be essential, The Associated Press Report.
“The truth is, if they started training F-16 pilots six months ago, those pilots would be able to get on those planes this spring,” Gates said. “So it delayed the decision-making process — and finally approving weapons for Ukraine. I understand the need to avoid direct confrontation with the Russians, but we did, I think we learned very quickly. As long as we’re providing things that can attack Russia. No, Putin will not retaliate.”
Responding to criticism that the U.S. is stockpiling too much of its weapons in Ukraine, thereby weakening the United States, Gates said those weapons “are certainly not weapons we would rely on if we were to get into a conflict, for example, with China.”
“The military is watching very carefully to make sure we don’t move too far away from our stockpiles and some of these weapons. And I think they’re watching it very, very closely,” he said.
Gates said he thinks the biggest threat to the United States today is polarization, which is “the incivility and lack of civility among our politicians or the feeling that someone who disagrees with you is not just someone you disagree with.” But an enemy, a bad person.”
“This lack of civility, I think, is something new in Congress and really quite widespread,” he said. “And it sets a very bad example for the rest of the country.”
He said the solution must start with leaders, suggesting they stop demonizing people who disagree with them.
“You can say, ‘My opponent has a different view. I totally disagree. I think that would be a terrible mistake, but I also believe that he’s trying to do what he thinks, what he thinks. What’s best for America. ,'” he said. “It’s actually quite simple.”
But, he said, one issue that has united Democrats and Republicans is China — but he called for a “more nuanced policy.”
“There’s kind of a race on the hill to see who can be tougher against China,” Gates said. “It makes a more nuanced policy by the administration more difficult, because anything the administration does to try to floor this relationship is criticized on the mountain for conceding something to the Chinese. There is broad bipartisan support for what the U.S. is doing for the Ukrainians and I think This is also the case in China.”
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