Biden Stalls Approval of Weapons Requested by Ukraine... Again

(Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
September 21, 2023

President Joe Biden has once again stalled the approval of weapons for Ukraine that the country says could help it defeat Russia.

Ukraine has repeatedly requested access to Lockheed Martin's ATACMS missiles, which have a range of 190 miles and could put occupying Russian troops throughout Ukraine in striking distance. Reports circulated this month that the White House was considering sending the missiles and an announcement of the decision could be imminent. But the president will not include the missiles in a $325 million aid package that he will announce Thursday to coincide with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky's visit to the White House, an anonymous official told Reuters Wednesday.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, Biden has repeatedly balked at requests for advanced weapons for Ukraine, only to flip on his refusal to send the weapons.

When Poland in March 2022 offered to provide its MiG-29 fighter jets to replenish Ukraine's Air Force, the Biden administration rejected the deal due its concerns about flying planes from NATO territory into the war zone. Biden changed his position in May, however, supporting a plan for a coalition of countries to train Ukrainian pilots to fly F-16s that they will eventually use in the war.

Days after rejecting Poland's plan to supply MiGs to the Ukrainians, Biden also announced he would not send Patriot air defense missiles to Ukraine, which the country could use to shoot down aerial threats from Russia, only for the Pentagon to announce nine months later that it was finalizing a plan to do just that.

In January, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the administration would not send M1A1 Abrams tanks to the Ukrainians because the administration feared it would be "providing the Ukrainians systems they can’t repair, they can’t sustain, and that they, over the long term, can’t afford." A mere week later, Biden reversed course and approved the transfer of the tanks.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby in December said the administration had "concerns" over sending cluster munitions to Ukraine, only for the administration to again reverse course and send the munitions seven months later.

Neither the White House nor the Pentagon responded to requests for comment.

Published under: Joe Biden , Ukraine