US Senator Mitch McConnell (Republican-KY), in his remarks to the CEPA Forum on September 27, reiterated the importance of continuing support for Ukraine, emphasizing its alignment with US interests and the minimal cost involved.
In a discussion with CEPA President and CEO Alina Polyakova, the Senate minority leader described US support for Ukraine as “an easy call.”
“We’re lined up here against China, Russia, North Korea, and Iran. That ought to tell you right from the beginning that you’re on the right side,” McConnell said. “If [Russian President Vladimir] Putin is to win this, some NATO country will be next. And I think it’s a lot smarter to just stop this invasion, to push him back.”
CEPA presented its Transatlantic Leadership Award to McConnell for his steadfast leadership and support for Ukraine.
Making the case for continued aid, McConnell said the war has not cost the lives of any US military personnel, and weapons transfers to Ukraine are allowing the United States to modernize its industrial base with cutting-edge technology that will be needed in the rising competition from Russia and China, and it is creating US jobs.
However, in Congress, some members of McConnell’s Republican Party are opposed to continuing US support for Ukraine, and recent polls have found some falls in support, especially among Republican voters.
McConnell attributed this to former US President Donald J. Trump’s influence. “That’s the bad news,” he said. “The good news is the leadership here in Congress of armed services and foreign relations and intelligence, appropriations, are still very much in this camp of supporting the Ukrainians.”
McConnell said the US public that is opposed to continuing to stand by Ukraine are being “to some extent misled.” He said: “I don’t think they understand the facts.”
The Republican senator also critiqued the Biden administration’s approach to military aid for Ukraine as being “not aggressive enough” and called for more timely support. At their meeting at the White House on September 21, US President Joe Biden informed his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, that the United States will provide a small number of long-range Army Tactical Missile Systems (ATACMS) to Ukraine.
However, McConnell said: “They make an announcement about a weapons transfer, and you read the fine print, and you find out it won’t be there for six months or a year. So, I basically am aligned with the administration, but I think the president has done a poor job of delivering the weapons support on time and making the argument to the American people.”