BIDEN’S top security advisor says US will give Kiev all that it needs to help weaken Russia.
US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan has claimed that Washington is racing to fulfill Ukraine’s weapons wish list, ensuring that Kiev has all that it needs to repel Russia and support the US goal of weakening and isolating Moscow.
“We are doing everything we can as the United States, working around the clock, to deliver our own weapons and . . . organising and coordinating the delivery of weapons from many other countries so that Ukraine has what it needs,” Sullivan said on Sunday in an NBC News interview. “Weapons are arriving every day, including today.”
Sullivan noted that he and Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, had a two-hour telephone call with top Ukrainian defence officials to discuss the weapons systems that Kiev is seeking. The US is working through that list as quickly as possible “to get Ukraine what it needs to strengthen its hand on the battlefield and to strengthen its hand at the bargaining table,” the security advisor said.
Asked by NBC host Chuck Todd whether the US had stopped distinguishing between defensive and offensive weapons, thus opening the door to giving Ukraine more lethal equipment, Sullivan suggested that restraint has all but been eliminated: “Given the nature of the battle, how things have shifted and adjusted and what the Russians have done, frankly – killing civilians, atrocities, war crimes – we have gotten to a place in the United States and across many members of the NATO alliance where the key question is, what does Ukraine need, and how can we provide it to them? That’s work we’re doing every day.”
Russia has consistently denied targeting civilians, accusing Ukraine’s radical neo-Nazi battalions of regularly using human shields and civilian infrastructure as a cover to avoid being hit by Russian forces.
Washington’s policy is to “do whatever we can to help Ukraine succeed,” Sullivan said. It’s up to Ukraine’s government to determine what constitutes that success, he added, but America’s overarching goals are clear: “At the end of the day, what we want to see is a free and independent Ukraine, a weakened and isolated Russia and a stronger, more unified, more determined West. We believe that all three of those objectives are in sight, can be accomplished, and we will do what it takes to support the Ukrainians in their effort to help bring those objectives about.”
Sullivan appeared to backtrack on a decision last month to reject Poland’s request that the US facilitate a transfer of MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine – a move that the Pentagon said at the time would risk escalating tensions with Russia. Speaking to NBC News, however, he said Biden’s administration only objected to the idea of transferring the jets from a US military base in Germany through contested airspace in Ukraine. Countries in the region are still free to give military aircraft to Ukraine, he added.
“From our perspective, the weapons they’re really focused on are weapons that if they’re not in American stocks, we are working hard to source them from other countries, get them delivered,” Sullivan said. “The whole of the US government, under the direction of President Biden, is working overtime to make that happen as rapidly as possible.”
Pressed by Todd on whether the administration would expel Russia’s approximately 400 diplomats in the US, Sullivan said the government will continue its policy of throwing out those who are judged to be working as spies. He also brushed off the idea that Biden would follow European leaders, such as UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, in traveling to Kiev to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. “President Biden has been to Kiev before, he looks forward to going to Kiev again, but we’re not currently planning a trip,” he said.
Asked in a CBS News interview when the US would reopen its embassy in Ukraine, Sullivan said, “We’re working through when we will be in a position to set our diplomatic presence back up in Kiev. That’s a judgment that gets worked through our security professionals. They are actively doing that.”