The Biden administration has been too slow to respond to the Ukraine-Russia conflict and should be more proactive in deterring Russian President Vladimir Putin, Rep. Don Bacon, R-Neb., told Newsmax Friday.
"We had three planeloads of weapons arrive to Ukraine last week. What bothers me is that we've been knowing about this crisis for two months," Bacon told Newsmax's "American Agenda."
"Finally last week the first arrival of United States lethal weapons arrived. This administration has been slow, too slow to respond, and if you peel the onion back it all goes back to Afghanistan where the world and our adversaries saw weakness.
"Right now, Putin is trying to push us around. But the administration has been very timid in trying to get these weapons and give the means for Ukraine to be able to defend themselves. Two months of discussions is too long."
Bacon, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, said the U.S. needs deterrence to stop Russia.
"It should be all about deterrence. Our intelligence community, they think the Russians have decided to attack. If that is the case, we need to change their opinion. And we do that by giving Ukraine the amount of weapons they need to defend themselves.
"We want to give Ukrainians the ability to kill their tanks, shoot down their aircrafts, sink their ships in the Black Sea. We want to change the calculus that President Putin is seeing," Bacon added.
"His goal is to get concessions from America and NATO — they want assurances that Ukraine will never be part of NATO, they want us to pull our forces out of the Baltics, which is a nonstarter, they want us to pull our forces out of Poland. They're trying to get concessions using ultimatums and we can't be pushed around, but they think they can because we have a president they perceive as weak."
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Friday the buildup of Russian forces along Ukraine's border has reached the point where Putin now has a complete range of military options, including actions short of a full-scale invasion.
"While we don't believe that President Putin has made a final decision to use these forces against Ukraine, he clearly now has the capability," Austin told a Pentagon news conference.
In Moscow, the Kremlin said Putin told French President Emmanuel Macron that the West has failed to take Russian security concerns into account, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told a radio interviewer that Russia doesn't want war but sees no room for compromise on its demands.
Bacon also slammed the Democratic-controlled government for not putting the annual defense bill on the floor.
"What that does is — we've done a continuing resolution which means we're spending in our defense community last year's budget at the same rate, so we've made no adjustments. For example, pay raises for the troops, you're paying last year's rate, not this year's rate. ...
"All these things we want to do to make improvements you're not allowed to do it until that appropriations bill is passed. ... This is hurting our military. We're in neutral right now. China's not neutral, Russia's not neutral, so this is hurting us as a superpower."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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