Pete Hoekstra: Ukraine Lacks Capability to Take Down Rebels

Thursday, 29 May 2014 03:24 PM

By Courtney Coren

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As fighting with the pro-Russian rebels in the eastern provinces of Ukraine escalates, former Michigan Congressman and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Peter Hoekstra says that "the Ukrainian government doesn't have the capability to take down these rebels at all."

Pro-Russian rebels shot down a Ukrainian military helicopter over the city of Slovyansk Thursday, killing all 14 aboard, including a Ukrainian general.

"The shoot down of this helicopter using a MANPAD shows that these rebels have some fairly sophisticated equipment," Hoekstra told J.D. Hayworth on "America's Forum" on Newsmax TV Thursday, referring to man-portable air-defense systems.

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Hoekstra says it raises the question of where the rebels are getting their weapons.

"It looks like they either captured this from an arms depot from the Ukrainian government, from the Ukrainian military, or that this equipment may have been supplied to them by Russia," the Michigan Republican speculated.

Hoekstra said that he expects that the violence will continue, and that "it's pretty interesting to see a rebel group with this kind of sophistication being able to hold off what should be a relatively good military capability with the Ukraine military."

The former House Intelligence Committee chairman explained that the Ukrainian government is struggling to take out the rebel forces because "it doesn't have the capability to take down these rebels at all."

"Clearly they'll have an air advantage, and those types of things, but I don't think they're going to be able to take them out," Hoekstra explained.

"It's going to be a guerilla, tactical type of fight and I don't think the Ukrainian military is going to be that good," he added.

The helicopter attack came after Ukraine was able to reclaim the Donetsk airport from rebel forces Tuesday, after a fierce fight in which dozens were killed.

On Wednesday, the Ukrainian military was on watch as the rebels were making efforts to reclaim the airport with anti-aircraft guns and two armored personnel carriers in tow.

The Michigan Republican said that the rebels still "control the surrounding area" outside the airport.

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