Group of Bipartisan Senators Press Biden to Expedite Arms to Poland
The senators urged Biden to direct the Department of State and the Department of Defense to "take any steps they can to accelerate" the execution of the $6 billion deal. The plea was made in a letter sent to the president on Friday and signed by Democratic Senators Tammy Duckworth and Dick Durbin of Illinois, Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Republican Senators Mike Crapo and James Risch of Idaho.
The arms sale consists of 250 M1A2 Abrams Main Battle Tanks—equipment that has been referred to as "the most modern battle tank in the world"—and was approved about one week before Russia invaded Ukraine as part of an effort to bolster the defenses of neighboring Poland. The senators suggested that, in addition to expediting the sale and delivery of the tanks, the Biden administration should approve additional arms sales to Poland and other NATO allies.
"It is our understanding that Poland has also expressed an interest in acquiring additional platforms to bolster its defense," the senators wrote to Biden. "As such, we also strongly urge you to direct State and DoD to work proactively with the Government of Poland to identify any other outstanding needs and swiftly develop, approve and execute [sales of additional arms] to meet the rapidly evolving threat posed by the Russian Federation."
"Dramatically strengthening Poland's ground forces will also strengthen NATO's collective defensive capabilities and serve as a powerful deterrent against the Russian Federation launching additional military incursions in Europe beyond Ukraine," they continued. "Now is the time for NATO to demonstrate strength, unity and resolve in the face of Putin's war of aggression."
The letter referred to Putin as a "brutal dictator and thug who seeks to intimidate and bully members of the NATO alliance, the European Union and all members of the international community that respect the rules-based democratic international system we built after World War II."
Even if the pending arms sale to Poland is expedited, the tanks may not be delivered to the country until 2025, according to Bloomberg. The deal also includes a selection of machine guns, 26 Hercules Combat recovery vehicles and other equipment.
While avoiding direct involvement in the conflict, the U.S. has also provided $1 billion in military assistance to Ukraine over the past year, including $350 million that was authorized one day after the invasion began. Weapons being shipped by the U.S. to Ukraine include Javelin anti-tank missiles, Stinger anti-aircraft missiles and guns and ammunition.
Additional NATO countries are also sending arms to Ukraine, often being delivered through Poland, although the shipments are being made by individual countries rather than NATO itself. Putin has warned that other countries attempting to directly interfere with the Russian forces would be subject to consequences "never encountered in your history."
By: Aila Slisco
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