U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), the Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), and U.S. Senator Angus King (I-ME), a senior member of SASC and Chairman of the Subcommittee on Strategic Forces, traveled to Kyiv this week to show solidarity with Ukraine, support the Ukrainian people defending their homeland, and provide oversight of U.S. assistance to Ukraine.
During their visit, the U.S. Senators met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Ukrainian defense and diplomatic officials to assess the situation on the ground and its impact on America’s national security and global stability.
The trip comes on the heels of Congress approving a bipartisan appropriations package that includes $45 billion in new emergency funds for Ukraine. The measure sets aside $11.9 billion to replenish U.S. weapons stocks that have been drawn down since the Russian invasion began in late February of 2022. Another $9 billion is dedicated to the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, which helps train, equip, and provide intelligence support to Ukraine’s military.
Reed and King are also meeting with U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Bridget Brink and U.S. diplomatic personnel posted at the U.S. Embassy. Senator Reed extended his profound appreciation to the brave women and men working at Embassy Kyiv, who are executing the U.S. diplomatic mission with dedication and determination in a highly complex and challenging environment.
While Chairman Reed and Senator King were overseas, the White House announced it will supply 50 Bradley fighting vehicles to Ukraine. These tracked armored combat vehicles can carry about 10 soldiers each and are armed with a 25mm automatic cannon, a 7.62mm machine gun, and a BGM-71 TOW missile system that can hit armored targets more than two miles away. The vehicles are effective in anti-tank and armored personnel carrier operations and are easier to fuel and maintain in the field than battle tanks like the M1 Abrams. The U.S. has already supplied Ukraine with 1,500 TOW anti-tank missiles.
The U.S. military aid package also includes radar-guided Sea Sparrow anti-air missiles, which can be launched from the sea or on land to intercept aircraft or cruise missiles.
Chairman Reed supported President Biden’s aid package announcement, noting the Bradleys will provide Ukrainian forces with enhanced protection, maneuverability, and firepower to stand up to Russian combat vehicles.
In addition to the Bradley fighting vehicles from the United States, France also announced this week that it will supply Ukraine with French-made AMX-10 RC armored vehicles, and Germany agreed to provide its Marder infantry fighting vehicle. Germany also agreed this week to join the U.S. in providing a Patriot air defense battery, bringing to total headed to Ukraine to two.
To date, the U.S. has provided Ukraine with more than 2,000 combat vehicles, including 477 Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicles and more than 1,200 Humvees. The Ukrainian military has employed these vehicles to great effect, reclaiming more than half the territory Russia had captured since the beginning of the war.
The Senators departed for Ukraine earlier this week and will return to the U.S. by Monday.
This was Senator Reed’s second trip to Ukraine. His last visit was in the summer of 2015.
Speaking with members of the Ukrainian media today near St. Michael’s Golden-Domed Monastery in Kyiv, Senator Reed stated:
“Our first message to the President was the high regard that he has held in the United States. His courage, his sacrifice, and his example, together with that of the Ukrainian people and particularly, their armed forces, has inspired the entire world. And we recognize in the United States that they are fighting the fight for all of us.
“The support for Ukraine comes from all America. When I drive around my home state of Rhode Island, I will see on so many homes, painted on buildings; the Ukrainian flag. This struggle is our struggle. And Americans recognize that. I conclude by saluting the Ukrainian people.”
“American support is based on two principles. First, Ukraine is fighting for the values that we cherish; freedom, democracy, a civil society, opposing autocracy and illegal and unconscionable warfare. And second, the American people respect the incredible courage of the people of Ukraine. Their unwillingness to submit to tyranny, their willingness to fight the good fight – literally. And that inspires us. And we want to do everything we can, Senator King and I, to expedite the assistance that Ukraine needs to finish this fight successfully.”
Touching on Zelenskyy’s leadership, Reed concluded by noting that “the President is leading quite adroitly, a worldwide coalition. So, that equipment could come from other countries, but I think there is the sense now, and the message that we are carrying back, is that we are at a decisive moment. And that providing equipment that the Ukrainian forces need will go a long way to concluding this successfully. And that’s our message.”
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