Pence calls for quicker pace of getting US military aid to Ukraine
Former Vice President Mike Pence on Friday called for increased urgency from the Biden administration in providing support for Ukraine and warned of the risks of heeding those Republicans who have pushed for less U.S. involvement in the war there.
Speaking at the University of Texas at Austin on the anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the former vice president and potential 2024 presidential candidate argued it is in America’s interest to support the Ukrainian people.
“Make no mistake: This is not America’s war. But if we falter in our commitment to providing the support to help people of Ukraine to defend their freedom, our sons and daughters may soon be called upon to defend ours,” Pence said. “If we surrender to the siren song of those in this country who argue that America has no interest in freedom’s cause, history teaches we may soon send our own into harm’s way.”
“It would be foolish to think that Putin’s tanks will stop at Ukraine’s western border,” Pence added.
Pence said Russian President Vladimir Putin bore responsibility for the war in Ukraine, and he cautioned that there can be “no room in the leadership of the Republican Party for apologists for Putin.”
The former vice president made a similar comment in the days after the invasion began in what was seen as a veiled swipe at former President Trump, who during his time in the White House often flattered Putin and said last year that the Russian leader showed “savvy” and “genius” in unilaterally declaring portions of eastern Ukraine were independent republics.
While congressional Republican leaders like Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) have been consistently supportive of backing Ukraine’s war effort, some prominent GOP lawmakers have been far more skeptical of U.S. support.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) has called for an audit of the funds the U.S. has approved for Ukraine and earlier this week called for a “national divorce,” tweeting, “We don’t pay taxes to fund foreign country’s wars who aren’t even NATO ally’s.”
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), a likely 2024 presidential candidate, went on Fox News this week to criticize the Biden administration’s “blank check policy” for support for Ukraine, and dismissed the idea that Russia might press past Ukraine and into NATO countries.
Pence: Biden is ‘hesitant in leadership’
Pence’s speech on Friday came after a year of war in Ukraine, with hundreds of thousands dead and wounded, scores of Ukrainians driven to flee the country and the U.S. accusing Russia of perpetrating war crimes as its military bombed and invaded Ukrainian cities.
While the Biden administration and Congress have provided billions of dollars in military, economic and humanitarian aid to Ukraine, Pence accused the White House of being “hesitant in leadership.”
“This week, President Biden said in Poland that Ukraine will never be a victory for Russia,” Pence said. “But to ensure this, we must accelerate the pace of military provisions to Ukraine.”
Pence pointed specifically to a January announcement that the Biden administration would provide Ukraine with 31 Abrams tanks after pleas from Kyiv for the vehicles. But the secretary of the Army this week said those tanks may not reach the battlefield in Ukraine this year due to the time it takes to produce and transport the tanks and train Ukrainian soldiers on the equipment.
“That’s not good enough,” Pence said Friday. “Time is of the essence. We need to provide tanks and resources in months, not years, to the people of Ukraine so they can defend their country.”
Pence also called for continued humanitarian and economic assistance for the people of Ukraine. The former vice president met with refugees last March who had spilled over the Ukrainian border into Poland.
Pence’s speech, meant to showcase his foreign policy credentials, comes as he is mulling a possible 2024 presidential bid, with a decision expected in the coming weeks. He has frequently visited early voting states like Iowa, South Carolina and New Hampshire.
Trump and former United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley have already announced their candidacies, with other GOP officials like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) expected to make decisions about whether to run in the coming months.
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