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Rep. Mike Turner asks why Obama has ignored Ukraine’s urgent needs list

- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 1, 2014

A congressman with close ties to NATO wants the Obama administration to explain why it has failed to answer Ukraine's urgent cry for military support.

Rep. Mike Turner, chairman of the U.S. delegation to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly and chairman of the House Armed Services tactical air and land forces subcommittee, is asking President Obama to explain why his administration has chosen to ignore some of the items on Ukraine's urgent needs list.

That list contains both lethal and non-lethal items that would be used by Ukrainian forces during a time of high tension along its shared border with Russia.

To date, the United States has authorized a list of supplies for Ukrainian troops that includes helmets, sleeping mats, water purification and small power generators. But those supplies are not enough to meet Ukraine's needs, according to the Ohio Republican.

Mr. Turner expressed his frustration with how the Obama administration has been handling the Ukraine crisis in a strongly worded letter issued to the White House on April 30.

"While the United States has taken some action to supply Ukranian forces with basic non-lethal assistance, these actions have been slow to occur and extremely limited in nature," he said. "I believe your Administration needs to immediately revise its existing strategy on military assistance to Ukraine in order to effect real change and alter Russian military thinking."

In March, House Armed Services Committee Republicans urged Mr. Obama to take a firmer stance against Russia, saying that they were "gravely concerned" about the number of troops amassing near the border of Ukraine.

The Ukrainian government, they said, should be provided with the intelligence necessary to take prudent defense measures to protect its people.

Around that same time, Mr. Turner sent a letter to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel asking that he make public known Russian military activity along the Ukraine border..

One month later, and Ukraine's sovereignty is still at the forefront of political discussions on Capitol Hill.

On Thursday, Supreme Allied Commander Europe Gen. Philip Breedlove is in Washington to testify in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee at a private hearing on the Ukrainian crisis and Russia. Gen. Breedlove is also expected to meet behind close doors with those House Armed Services Committee members who have a top-secret security clearance.

Mr. Turner, however, is raising the flag of caution and concern prior to hearing what Gen. Breedlove has to say. In his letter to Mr. Obama, the congressman claims that his concern stems from recent reports indicate that the situation in Ukraine continues to escalate due to Russian aggression in the region.

"The United States and NATO allies can no longer stand by and simply observe as the situation will only further deteriorate," he said. "Moving forward, it is clear that Ukrainian forces need further military assistance in order to contain Russian orchestrated unrest and repel any potential military action within Ukraine."

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