GOP-led House steps up scrutiny of Biden’s military aid for Ukraine


A senior Biden administration official told Congress on Tuesday that the Pentagon has not detected that any weapons it has sent to Ukraine have fallen into the wrong hands, responding to a chorus of Republican critics seeking to limit U.S. military aid to Kyiv.

“We don’t see any evidence of diversion in in our reporting,” said Colin Kahl, the undersecretary of defense for policy. “We think the Ukrainians are using properly what they’ve been given.”

Kahl’s comments to the House Armed Services Committee came in response to questions from lawmakers of both political parties, and as the GOP-led House intensifies scrutiny of the tens of billions of dollars and U.S. arms that the Biden administration has provided Ukraine to help fend off Russia’s invasion. After retaking the House majority in January, Republicans have promised vigorous oversight of the aid program, even as a split calcifies within the GOP over whether to scale back U.S. support.

The hearing features testimony from Kahl; Robert Storch, the Defense Department inspector general; and Lt. Gen. Douglas Sims II, director of operations for the Pentagon’s Joint Staff. It’s the first of two scheduled for Tuesday on the subject of Ukraine aid. In the afternoon, the House Appropriations subcommittee on defense is scheduled to hear from Sims and Celeste Wallander, the assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs. That hearing is due to start at 2 p.m.

Pressure builds to step up weapons tracking in Ukraine

Testimony Tuesday morning indicated that while some Republicans continue to question whether assisting Ukraine is in the United States’ best interests, several others pressed for the Biden administration to do more.

“Since the beginning, the president has been overly worried, in my view, that giving Ukraine what it needs to win would be too escalatory,” Rep. Mike D. Rogers (R-Ala.) said. “This hesitation has only prolonged the war and driven up the cost in terms of dollars and lives.”

Tuesday’s hearings come about two weeks after the armed services committee’s new chairman, Rogers led a bipartisan congressional delegation to Poland and Romania meant to observe how the U.S. military delivers and tracks the weapons it provides to Ukraine. The lawmakers released a joint statement after their trip calling for greater transparency on the issue.

“The American people have every right to know that U.S. military equipment donated to Ukraine is being used for its intended purpose — Ukraine’s fight for national survival,” the lawmakers said. They added that they “came away with a clear understanding of the various safeguards” that have been put in place after a briefing with the American general who oversees the effort, but warned that “should we confirm that any defense articles are siphoned off, diverted, or missing the flow of U.S. equipment would cease to be tenable.”

While some outspoken conservatives want to end U.S. military and financial support for Ukraine, many mainstream Republicans have instead called for tougher oversight while continuing to support robust assistance packages — with some criticizing President Biden for not doing more to help. A number of Republicans and Democrats have called on the administration to send long-range missiles, F-16 fighter jets and other weapons that have been held back.

In December, Republicans in the House Foreign Relations Committee backed a resolution by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) to audit U.S. economic aid for Ukraine. The legislation was ultimately defeated 26-22 as Democrats, still in the House majority at that time, stayed united on the issue. Nevertheless, the vote served as a preview of Republican demands for greater accountability.

In November, U.S. officials said they had so far inspected about 10 percent of the weapons provided to Ukraine while pledging to expand the effort in coming months, with an emphasis on Javelin antitank missiles, Stinger antiaircraft missiles and other smaller systems that could have a heightened risk of going missing.

One year of Russia’s war in Ukraine

Portraits of Ukraine: Every Ukrainian’s life has changed since Russia launched its full-scale invasion one year ago — in ways both big and small. They have learned to survive and support each other under extreme circumstances, in bomb shelters and hospitals, destroyed apartment complexes and ruined marketplaces. Scroll through portraits of Ukrainians reflecting on a year of loss, resilience and fear.

Battle of attrition: Over the past year, the war has morphed from a multi-front invasion that included Kyiv in the north to a conflict of attrition largely concentrated along an expanse of territory in the east and south. Follow the 600-mile front line between Ukrainian and Russian forces and take a look at where the fighting has been concentrated.

A year of living apart: Russia’s invasion, coupled with Ukraine’s martial law preventing fighting-age men from leaving the country, has forced agonizing decisions for millions of Ukrainian families about how to balance safety, duty and love, with once-intertwined lives having become unrecognizable. Here’s what a train station full of goodbyes looked like last year.

Deepening global divides: President Biden has trumpeted the reinvigorated Western alliance forged during the war as a “global coalition,” but a closer look suggests the world is far from united on issues raised by the Ukraine war. Evidence abounds that the effort to isolate Putin has failed and that sanctions haven’t stopped Russia, thanks to its oil and gas exports.

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