Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., who chairs the House Armed Services Committee, wants the U.S. to supply Ukraine with long-range artillery and drones to strike at Russians controlling portions of Ukrainian territory.
Smith made his comments at a Defense Writers Group event on Wednesday. They were reported by Stars and Stripes.
“Ukraine borders Russia, if you give them a mortar shell that can go a mile, theoretically it can strike Russia,” Smith said. “The point of giving them the weapons is not to be able to strike into Russia, the point is to be able to hit the Russians who are in Ukraine from a longer, safer distance.”
Smith said the artillery and drones would be capable of deep strikes in Russian-held territory, according to Stars and Stripes. He was critical of President Joe Biden’s decision to limit Ukraine to rocket systems with munitions that have a range of 40 miles.
Stars & Stripes reported that Smith also called the current weapon shipments to Ukraine too slow. And he questioned the pace of ongoing talks to sell Ukraine multi-use MQ-1C Gray Eagle drones that can carry eight Hellfire missiles.
“Let’s get them over there; let’s get started,” Smith said. “The issue is if the Russians are able to see better and shoot farther, then you’re at a disadvantage, so I think we should give them more of that.”
He noted Russia has been able to conduct far better surveillance and reconnaissance because it has superior drones.
“The Ukrainians don’t have that same capability,” Smith said. “There needs to be more ISR [intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance] capability, more drone capability and more counter-drone capability to disrupt Russians looking at them.
“My sense is that the consensus amongst the committee is we need to be more aggressive about what we give. That I will say with great confidence in a bipartisan way. [There’s] a sense that we could be doing more in terms of the type of weapons that we’re sending.”
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has warned against the U.S. and the West supplying Ukraine with long-range missile systems. He said last week Russia will respond by taking more territory in that country.
"The longer the range of the systems that will be delivered, the further we will move back the Nazis from that line from which threats to Russian speakers and the Russian Federation may come," Reuters quoted him as saying.
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