Robert Gates slams White House for ‘slowing down’ on approving arms to Ukraine

Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates criticized the Biden administration for the pace of approving weapons systems. Ukrainegiven that the embattled country is the “most important” foreign policy issue facing the US “right now”.

In an interview on “Face the Nation” that aired Sunday, Gates said the Biden administration’s intelligence findings ahead of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and its NATO allies were “very important.” He also called the administration’s ability to pull together a coalition to support Ukraine “very impressive.”

But the administration has been slow to provide Ukraine with weapons systems such as tanks, missile launchers and fighter jets, Gates said.

“There has been a debate for a long time: should we send tanks?” Gates said: “Well, finally, we sent tanks. Do we ship things like HIMARS and other types of capabilities? And we finally did, but only after months and months of indecision. They were worried, talking about F-16s. many, many months, and now we’re hearing well, we’re going to go ahead and allow training with the F-16s. Well, that’s a decision that could have been made six months ago.”


President Biden told allies on Friday that he did approving plans to train Ukrainian pilots on F-16 fighters, according to a senior administration official. The decision was another shift by the Biden administration to provide Ukraine with more advanced weapons systems after long insisting it was sending enough weapons to the country to defend itself and amid concerns that Ukraine would use the advanced weapons on Russian soil.

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky has repeatedly asked to provide fighter jets to Western allies. As Ukraine upgrades its air defenses and prepares to launch a counteroffensive against Russia, officials believe the fighter jets could be crucial, The Associated Press. reports.

“The truth is, if they had started training F-16 pilots six months ago, those pilots would have been able to get into those planes this spring,” Gates said. “So it’s related to the delays in the decision-making process and getting weapons for Ukraine and finally getting approved. I understand the need to avoid direct confrontation with the Russians, but I think we learned too soon. As long as we didn’t provide things that could attack Russia, Putin wasn’t going to fight back.”

In response to criticism that the United States is giving too much of its weapons stockpile to Ukraine, thereby weakening the United States, Gates said those weapons “are not necessarily the types of weapons that we would rely on if we got into a confrontation, for example, with China.”

“The military is watching very closely to make sure we don’t take our supplies and some of these weapons too far. And I think they’re monitoring it very, very closely,” he said.

Gates said he believes the biggest danger to the United States right now is polarization, made worse by “the meanness and lack of civility among our politicians, or the feeling that whoever disagrees with you is just not who you agree with.” don’t you agree?” but he is an enemy, a bad person.”

“This lack of civility, I think, is new and really quite common in Congress,” he said. “And that sets a pretty bad example for the rest of the country.”

He said the solution must start with leaders, suggesting they stop demonizing people who disagree with them.

“You can say: “My opponent has a different point of view. I totally disagree. I think that would be a terrible mistake, but I also believe that he is also trying to do what he thinks, thinks. what is best for America,” he said. “It’s pretty simple actually.”

However, he said one issue that has united Democrats and Republicans is China, but he called for a “more nuanced policy.”

“There’s kind of a competition on the Hill to see who can be tougher on China,” Gates said. “It makes it more difficult for the administration to have a more nuanced policy, because anything the administration does to try to mend this relationship is criticized on the Hill as giving something to the Chinese. But I think by and large there is very broad bipartisan support for what the United States is doing for the Ukrainians, and I think that goes for China as well.”

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