Returning Lawmakers Will Get Briefing on Ukraine, Islamic State

Monday, 01 Sep 2014 09:19 AM

By Elliot Jager

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Members of the House Armed Services Committee, returning after the five-week August recess, will get a classified briefing Sept. 9 on the latest developments in Ukraine and the Middle East, The Hill reported.

Russia's involvement in Ukraine and the advances made by the Islamic State  in Iraq and Syria will top the agenda.

The retiring chairman of the committee, Buck McKeon, a California Republican, has urged President Barack Obama to consult with Congress on a "comprehensive strategy" against the Islamic State. This "may well require additional authorities from Congress, but speculation about that before the president has even offered a strategy is putting the cart before the horse," McKeon said in a statement.

McKeon also wants Obama to make clear whether the administration will call what Russia is doing in Ukraine an invasion. "If reports prove accurate that [President Vladimir] Putin has in fact sent over 1,000 troops into Ukraine to support and fight alongside Russian-backed separatists, this is an act of war against the sovereign state of Ukraine," McKeon and Ohio Republican Rep. Michael Turner, a subcommittee chairman, said in a joint statement.

Meanwhile, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez, Democrat of New Jersey, on a fact-finding visit to Kiev, called on the administration to re-consider its opposition to supplying Ukraine with weapons. "When I read the headlines back at home that suggest rebels are advancing in different parts of eastern Ukraine, it's not rebels – it's Russian soldiers." Menendez said the United States should provide Ukraine with defensive weapons "that will impose a cost upon Putin for further aggression."

Other Democrats including Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger of the House Intelligence Committee and Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein have taken Obama to task for his hesitant approach to the Islamic State, also known as ISIS.

Last week, McKeon led a bipartisan committee delegation to Jerusalem where lawmakers heard Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu discuss the threat of radical Islamic groups including Hamas and the Islamic State, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported.

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