After visiting war-torn Ukraine last week, US Senator Steve Daines said on Monday he would write to President Joe Biden asking for the return of US diplomats to the country. He will also push for faster delivery of lethal aid and support for war crimes investigations.
Speaking to Montana media, Daines said it was important for the US government to have a presence in Ukraine and for Ukrainians to receive requested weapons, especially heavy artillery. The Republican from Montana became one of only two members of Congress to visit Ukraine last week, after ditching a visit to NATO countries in Eastern Europe for the hastily planned trip in Kyiv and Bucha.
“It is an important and strong message to have a diplomatic presence in Ukraine, as we go through the war and work on humanitarian and lethal assistance with the Ukrainian government. Second, to deliver strong legal aid faster,” Daines said.
The senator criticized the $800 million military aid approved by Biden last week, which Daines said did not include enough heavy artillery.
“It’s the number one thing, heavy artillery. They requested heavy artillery, heavy armor, air defense systems, military aircraft, anti-ship missiles and light vehicles. But under heavy artillery, their number one request is artillery guns, and that’s the 155 millimeter howitzer.
“The Biden administration just said they were going to send 18. Ukraine said we need a minimum of 100. And that’s really important with what’s going on in the east and south Ukraine. The Russians are now looking to build, to control, this land bridge that leads to Crimea. But they are also looking to move along the Black Sea to Odessa. If they get to Odessa, they will probably cross Transnistria, then Moldova, and take Moldova, and then you have the Russians literally next to the border of Romania where we have an air base, the MK air base there near Constanta.
Like Ukraine, Moldova is not a member of NATO, but Romania is.
“If I could sum up what I’ve seen over the past week and think about it, it’s this: the humanitarian crisis will not end until the war is over. War crimes will not end until the war is over. This war is not going to end,” Daines said.
Biden announced on April 13 that he was in talks about sending a senior official to Kyiv as a show of support. Other NATO countries have sent senior officials, including British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who visited Kyiv on April 9.
Specifically, regarding 155-millimeter howitzers, the Pentagon said Monday it would launch a “train-the-trainer” program outside Ukraine within days. The program will train Ukrainians who will then return to their country and train others. Remarks were provided in a reading of the briefing.
While there were only 18 towable howitzers identified in the country last week, there were 40,000 howitzer shells on a weapons summary. After the list was released, a senior Pentagon official avoided disclosing several specific details on the weapons sheet, including a line about an undisclosed number of “unmanned coastal defense vessels,” which are large vessels. robots, described by the Ministry of Defense as prototypes, which just 10 months ago traveled 4,421 nautical miles almost autonomously.
A reporter noted that the robotic warships are not officially in the US Navy’s inventory, according to the reading.
“I’m not going to promise you a fact sheet,” replied press secretary John Kirby. “I can promise you this fucking thing works.”