- The Washington Times
Saturday, February 26, 2022

OPINION:

There is a behind-the-scenes story to President Biden’s sudden announcement Saturday of more arms for Ukraine as Vladimir Putin tries to swallow up the former Russian possession.

For weeks, the White House National Security Council and Pentagon have been “slow-rolling” Kyiv’s long-standing request for more weapons as Russian President Putin deployed a massive troop buildup, a congressional source told me. The Biden team did not want to “escalate” — meaning they were intimidated by the Russian president.


“DOD and NSC lawyers are slow-rolling the re-supply of weapons to Ukraine, Poland and the Baltics over concerns it will draw the United States into the war,” the source said. “The Baltic nations need more Stingers and Javelins to replenish their inventory which was depleted by transfers to Ukraine.”

Stingers are the shoulder-mounted heat-seeking anti-aircraft missiles that sent Soviet troops retreating from Afghanistan. Javelins are the U.S. Army’s top anti-tank weapon. President Trump made the first-time shipments to Ukraine. The Baltic states have sent U.S. Stingers.

In January, the administration briefed House members that sending Stingers “might escalate the situation,” the source said.  

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, flak jacket in place, is defying the Russian strongman and his huge approaching army by staying put. He rejected an offer by Biden aides to spirit him to safety.

“I need ammunition, not a ride,” he said. 

The brave president underscores what the congressional source is telling me: The Biden team has been too slow to beef up Ukraine even as Mr. Biden repeatedly served as a crisis broadcaster of a sure invasion.

The irony of the sudden rush to send arms by Mr. Biden now that Mr. Putin has invaded was not lost on Richard Grenell, Mr. Trump’s former top intelligence official.

“Really late,” he tweeted Saturday morning as the State Department spokesman announced the arms shipments for “further defensive support.”

Mr. Grenell added, “You’ve been telling the world that a bloody war was coming but waited to provide serious support until the war started.”

Bill Gertz’s Inside the Ring column reported exclusively on a Feb. 3 written request by the Polish military to the U.S. Embassy in Warsaw for permission to send Javelins to Ukraine. The missiles remain unshipped to this day.

Army legislative affairs told Capitol Hill on Feb. 14, “At the current moment, the U.S. Army is still sorting out multiple requests and what may be available for these high-demand assets. So a final decision is still pending.”

There is more Biden indecision.

Ukraine wants anti-ship missiles, but no luck. Russian ships are now blocking parts of the Black Sea. Ukraine said a warship machine-gunned to death 13 guards as it seized the strategic Snake Island. 

“They refuse to release U.S. stocks of stinger wartime reserves,” said the congressional source. “That is why other nations sent their own.”

Meanwhile, congressional staff are being briefed by the administration that it might not have the authority to arm a Ukrainian resistance against what would surely be a brutal Putin occupation with many murders.

My source says there has been a “raging debate” inside the intelligence community over whether Mr. Putin is mentally unstable.

Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, the top Republican on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, tweeted this Friday night: 

“I wish I could share more, but for now I can say it’s pretty obvious to many that something is off with #Putin. He has always been a killer, but his problem now is different & significant.

“It would be a mistake to assume this Putin would react the same way he would have 5 years ago.”

• Rowan Scarborough is a columnist with the Washington Times.


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