Will Hurd, the member of the U.S. House of Representatives, Republican, Corporate adviser, former CIA operative (worked in CIA for 9 years) spoke of the U.S. supplies of lethal weapons to Ukraine in his exclusive interview to the 112 Ukraine TV channel's Elina Beketova.
Congressman Hurd, the first question. You go for giving Ukraine the lethal weapons. Why do you think Ukraine needs it?
- I think Ukraine needed them 3 years ago. And this is something that has overwhelming support in Congress, in the house and in the Senate. And I think right now is important because of Russians activities in Ukraine, as you know too well, this is not the separatists' movement, this is an invasion of the sovereign country and we need to know that the US is supporting our friends, to the best of our ability.
Have you already turned to President Trump and asked for lethal weapons? What is the mechanism of asking of this weapons for you as a congressman? Can you tell a little bit more about that?
- Sure. Most recently, the peace legislation that Congress has to pass every year, authorizing our military - it is called the national authorisation act or NDAA, and this is something that has passed through the house and the version is in the Senate, and it's going to go to the president's desk sometime before December. I'm in this. This approves the secretary of defense to spend up 50 billion of dollars on lethal aid to the Ukrainians. excuse me 500 million dollars. And this is the way Congress shows our interest and our will. by the way, it was in the last authorization last year and it was an authorization act 2 years ago. So, Congress has made our opinions on this topic, very clearly, and as you know, our State Department has conquered with Congress, and I know that the secretary of defense has indicated his interest in providing this type of lethal support.
Congressman Hurd, we are talking right now about this 500 million military aid for Ukraine that the US Senate approved last week. right? Do you know whether it is an aid or should Ukraine give back this money? What will be this money spent on? do you know? is there something about it in the document?
- Well, the document does not prescribe specifically what type of support that the US should be giving Ukraine. But some of the examples that are often talked about is the javelins. This is an important anti-tank weapon. With over 900 Russian tanks in Eastern Ukraine, this is an important tool in order to defend ground and to prevent Russians from any further incursions. These are a few examples, that are in there, but those details should be left up to our military planners, to have a conversation with your Ukrainian military, to talk about what is in need and unique to your situation.
Do you know what is the situation with this bill now? should the president sign it?
- Correct. What is this? The house passed our version a month and a half ago, I think, the Senate passed their version last week. And so over the next few weeks, the House and the Senate will get together to iron out the differences between the 2 versions of the bill. And send one common bill to the President. And this process should be completed sometime before early December. And again, this will be the third time that Congress supported lethal weapons going to Ukraine.
How do you think, will President Trump sign this document?
- I'm pretty confident he will sign the overall authorization and the lethal support to the Ukraine is just a part of the entire authorization of the US military forces, this is pretty wide and deep document. So when it comes to the US military. This is something the president will sign. But the president separately has to follow through and agree to provide those weapons. The lethal support is not directed. It is authorized. And it is up to the commander in chief to make a decision.
And this lethal support - should Ukraine give it back? Or is it an aid to Ukraine?
- It would be an aid, I don't think if the weapons were given, at some point in time it has to be given back. I don't think it's a nature of arrangements, this would be following the usual way that military support is provided to our allies.
General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee that a proposal to provide lethal aid to Ukraine was awaiting a decision from the White House. There is no decision made in the White House. Are we far away from that?
- I wouldn't say we are far away from that. But the decision is to the president to make. This was something I hoped he would have made a decision before the meeting with your president on the margins of the UN General Assembly. But nothing came from that. No official announcements came from it. But this something where you have as I said, the State Department, Congress, and even senior members of the department of defense. They are advocating for moving forward and changing the US policy which was under the past administration - there was no provision of lethal weapons, and we are hoping that we will change this policy.
Why do you think Ukraine needs this lethal weapons and javelins? Don't you think it may cause some escalation in Donbass from the side of Russia?
You don't use anti-tank weapons to invade a country. You use it to defend. The escalation has been on the Russian side. If Russian wants to solve this problem, it's really simple, make it remove their military and their tanks, from Eastern Ukraine and the Donbass region and go back to Russia. That is the easiest way to solve this. And I know, Vladimir Putin has recently called for UN peacekeeping officials to help with this conflict. Again, the resolution should be that the Russians should pick up their stuff and leave.
If this bill the act of will be signed by the President- when can Ukraine actually get this lethal weapon?
- It's a very good question, in my hope that sooner rather than later, but the president has to make this decision for the provision of these arms.
Is it very hard to forecast this question?
- Yeah, it is, you have to ask the president this question.