Senate

Graham introduces resolution urging Biden to help send jets to Ukraine

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) introduced a resolution on Wednesday urging President Biden to help facilitate the transfer of fighter jets and air defense systems to Ukraine.

Graham’s nonbinding resolution, which is backed by nine other GOP senators, would throw formal Senate support behind encouraging Biden to “support the transfer of aircraft, such as MiG-29s, and air defense systems to Ukraine” and give Senate backing to efforts by other countries to transfer planes or air defense systems to Ukraine.

“I’m urging the Senate to speak with one voice, to meet the moment. … If we had a vote on the resolution to supply the Ukrainian military with the MiG fighters and other air defense systems, it would be a shot in the arm to Ukrainian people and their military,” Graham said.

“It would be a blow to [Russian President Vladimir] Putin. If we do this soon, I think it really could help the outcome of this conflict,” he added.

Graham’s resolution comes after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky virtually addressed Congress on Wednesday, urging the United States to step up its response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Zelensky pushed for the United States to help establish a no-fly zone. That’s been rejected by the administration and lawmakers in both parties because the United States or other European countries would have to enforce it and shoot down Russian planes that came into Ukrainian airspace.

But Zelensky also asked for more aircraft, air defense systems and military equipment as well as for the U.S. to continue to ramp up economic sanctions against Russia.

The Pentagon had previously rejected a plan for Poland to transfer its fleet of MiGs to a U.S. base in Germany, which would then allow the United States to give the planes to Ukraine, warning that Russia could perceive the transfer as escalatory.

Though the decision has been backed by top Democrats in Congress, getting planes to Ukraine also has bipartisan support on Capitol Hill, with Graham predicting that if his resolution got a vote, it would “overwhelmingly pass.”

But military experts are warning that the MiG-29s are outdated and that providing them to Ukraine would be ineffective in providing air cover.

“The MiG wouldn’t last a second in Ukrainian air space right now,” said Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.

Despite the Pentagon’s decision, Poland could still send the jets to Ukraine unilaterally. 

“We don’t have these planes. These planes are Polish planes. Poland can send them tomorrow. We have nothing to say about that,” said Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

“I also think it’s a little unfair to suggest that it’s our administration that’s responsible for this decision. Poland can do whatever they want,” he added. 

Tags Adam Smith air defense systems Chris Murphy Joe Biden Lindsey Graham planes to Ukraine Russia-Ukraine conflict Ukraine-Russia conflict
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