By Jeremy Herb - 03/26/14 06:56 PM EDT
Republican leaders on the House Armed Services Committee said Wednesday that the Obama administration wasn’t sharing all of its available intelligence with Ukraine.
Eight GOP members of the panel called on the administration to do so to help Ukraine protect itsself from further Russian aggression.
“We urge your administration, working with our NATO allies, to share available intelligence information with the government of Ukraine that would enable it to take prudent and timely measures to protect the very ‘sovereignty and territorial integrity’ that you have committed to maintain,” the members, led by Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.), wrote in a letter to President Obama Wednesday.
“The department should immediately provide Congress and make public known Russian military activity along the Ukrainian border,” Turner wrote.
Turner said that the Obama administration was “in possession of information critical for the United States and its allies to adequately combat Russian aggression.”
“However, President Obama and Secretary Hagel have dangerously chosen to withhold this information from the people of the United States, the Ukrainian government, and the rest of the international community,” Turner said in a statement.
In the Armed Services letter, committee Republicans said they were alarmed at new information about Russia’s forces amassing on the Ukrainian border.
They did not elaborate, saying that they would address the details of their concerns further in an accompanying classified letter.
“There is deep apprehension that Moscow may invade eastern and southern Ukraine, pressing west to Transdniestria, and also seek land grabs in the Baltics,” the lawmakers wrote.
The Armed Services Republicans also urged Obama to enhance the U.S. posture in Europe in response to potential aggression from Russia further into Ukraine and Eastern Europe. They said Obama should convene an emergency NATO session and "request that our NATO allies also enhance their force readiness in the event that an Article V response is required.”
Hagel reiterated on Wednesday that his Russian counterpart, Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu, had assured him that Russia did not intend for its forces to cross the border into Ukraine.
“I told him that we looked forward to the Russians living up to their word, if that was the case,” Hagel said. “But the reality is, they continue to build up their forces. So they need to make sure that they stay committed to what Minister Shoygu told me.”
Hagel also said that NATO was prepared to defend the sovereignty of any of its members. Ukraine is not a NATO member.
“I have no doubt — I don't think any member of NATO has any doubt — that all 28 members are prepared to come to the security interests, if that's what's required, to defend the integrity and sovereignty of those member countries,” Hagel said.