Ex-US VP Pence demands F-16s for Kiev
The unprecedented military assistance that the US government and its NATO allies have sent to Ukraine to fight Russia was not expedient enough, former Vice President Mike Pence, who seeks the Republican nomination for president in 2024, believes.
“President Joe Biden has been slow in providing military resources to Ukraine,” the politician stated during a CNN town hall on Wednesday. “We are [still] waiting on F-16s to be transferred from somewhere.”
The US-manufactured fighter jets are one of the few weapon systems requested by Kiev that the incumbent Democratic administration has not agreed to provide. The Pentagon cited logistical problems and the long time required to train Ukrainian pilots.
“I believe the United States of America needs to continue to provide the courageous soldiers in Ukraine with the resources they need to repel … the Russian invasion and restore their territorial integrity,” Pence declared during an that followed his official campaign announcement.
Moscow considers the hostilities in Ukraine to be part of a US-led proxy war against Russia. It said it was left with no option but to act militarily after in late 2021 NATO refused to address Russia’s security concerns and pushed on with a progressively deeper involvement within Ukraine.
The GOP is split on the aid issue. Some party heavyweights believe that the billions of dollars sent to Ukraine could have been spent to address domestic issues such as border security. Kiev’s record of corruption is another issue that has given some Republicans pause. Skeptics have also warned that Washington has been pushing Russia towards China, a nation that they perceive as the biggest threat to American interests.
Others, including Pence, have accused Biden of being soft on Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin. During the town hall, he called the Russian leader a “war criminal” and seemingly rebuked his former running mate, Donald Trump, for calling Putin a “genius.”
Another Trump administration member-turned-GOP nomination contender, Nikki Haley, urged ensuring Kiev’s victory to “send a message to China.” Meanwhile, Vivek Ramaswamy, another would-be nominee, suggested that the US should make concessions on Ukraine to drive a wedge between Moscow and Beijing.