Lawmakers want US military advisers sent to Ukraine

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Kyiv, Ukraine–The Biden administration should allow the Pentagon to deploy U.S. military advisers to Ukraine to help coordinate the billions of dollars of arms flowing into the country and to keep better tabs on the weapons, members of a bipartisan congressional delegation visiting Kyiv said Saturday.  

“I think we should do more,” Rep. Michael Waltz, R-Fla., the first Green Beret elected to Congress, told Fox News after meeting Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.   

“That said,” Waltz continued, “it should come with appropriate safeguards, with appropriate oversight and the only way we can get that oversight is to actually have some advisors in Ukraine helping their military with the planning and logistics.”

In this photo provided by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, left, listens to a servicemen report close to the front line in Donetsk region, Ukraine, Sunday, June 5, 2022.

In this photo provided by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, left, listens to a servicemen report close to the front line in Donetsk region, Ukraine, Sunday, June 5, 2022. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP, File)

Asked if that includes sending U.S. military personnel to Ukraine, Waltz said it might.   

“It could be contracted, it could be civilian, but it could be military as well,” Waltz said.   Those advisers running logistics and weapons transfers are currently deployed to Germany and Poland. 

Rep. Mikie Sherrill, D-N.J., also traveled to Ukraine Saturday as part of the delegation.  She signaled her support for a larger American presence on the ground as well.

“It would be good to have a logistics officer here to make sure that we understand and track the weaponry that we’re sending,” Sherrill told Fox News.

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Both lawmakers said the advisers would help beef up the presence at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv and assist in other areas. 

“I don’t think anybody is advocating for any [American] military on the front line, but helping with logistics, planning those operations, integrating the intelligence is incredibly important right now,” said Waltz.  

“The Ukrainians are doing a very good job,”  Sherrill said,  “But they even said they would like to pass on the information about how they’re tracking [weapons] but they need someone to pass that on to.”

Waltz also called for Europe to “step up” and contribute more weapons and aid to help Ukraine.   The United States has committed three times more money for Ukraine than the entire 27-nation European Union combined, according to the New York Times. 

Waltz noted Britain’s contributions to the war effort by sending billions in weapons.  The British government has been one of the few in NATO nations calling on Russia to be routed completely in Ukraine, including calling for its occupied territory in Crimea and eastern Ukraine to be recaptured. 

Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks, Wednesday, June 1, 2022, during a news conference with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, at the State Department in Washington.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks, Wednesday, June 1, 2022, during a news conference with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, at the State Department in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

The Biden administration should “not just help Ukraine play for a time, but help them go for a win,” Waltz said. “At a minimum, what we talked about today was getting them back to that 2014 line.” 

Asked if current rules of engagement restrictions should be lifted barring U.S.-supplied weapons for striking targets inside Russian territory, Waltz said there were plenty of targets inside Ukraine to destroy first. 

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Saturday, Russia launched a missile strike on Odesa, Ukraine’s largest port, less than 24 hours after both countries separately signed a U.N.-brokered agreement in Turkey Friday allowing both countries to export grain. 

“This is critical for world food supplies and the fact that just a day after this negotiation, Russia in bad faith would then do exactly what they had just agreed not to do,” Sherrill said.  “The day after is really shocking and quite frankly, quite depressing.”

Secretary of State Anthony Blinken also condemned the strike in a statement Saturday, “Russia breached its commitments by attacking the historic port from which grain and agricultural exports would again be transported under this arrangement.”

Russian forces have expanded its missile strikes in recent days to cities across Ukraine killing dozens, including children. 

The Biden administration announced late Friday it would send four more satellite-guided rocket launchers, known as HIMARS, to Ukraine –bringing the total to 16.  Experts say Ukraine needs at least 60. Ukraine’s defense minister says he needs 100.

President Biden will turn 80 in November.

President Biden will turn 80 in November. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

In the latest weapons package to Ukraine hundreds of drones and 36,000 artillery rounds were also included.  An American fighter on the front lines in eastern Ukraine, who asked not to be named, told Fox News Ukrainian drones are shot down by the Russians every “four or five” missions.

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Ukraine has enough weapons to keep them from losing, but not enough to defeat Russia who continues making incremental gains in the eastern Donbas region, some American officials admit. 

Asked this week if Ukraine’s Donbas region was lost, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley told reporters it was not lost “yet.”