Smith bucks Biden, says Ukraine needs long-range missiles and killer drones
Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) has called for the U.S. to send long-range missiles and armed drones to Ukraine, accusing the Biden Administration of caving to Vladimir Putin’s warning that the West should not send weapons capable of hitting targets in Russia.
“I don’t agree with the President on the notion that we shouldn’t give them long range strike missiles, because I think he’s sort of buying into Putin’s rhetoric here,” Smith, who chairs the House Armed Forces Committee, said at the Center for a New American Security’s annual foreign policy conference today.
“Every single piece of artillery we send them is capable of striking Russia, because Ukraine’s like right on the border with Russia,” he continued. “The longer range stuff is not about going into Russia, it’s about giving you the ability to have a more standoff capability to hit the Russians who are in Ukraine.”
The remarks suggest a rift between Smith and President Joe Biden on the issue. They also coincided with the announcement of another reported $1 billion weapons sale to Ukraine. The package is expected to include anti-ship missiles, which Kelley Vlahos of Responsible Statecraft warned back in May could increase the “odds of a wider war dragging NATO into the fray, and worse, nuclear conflict.”
Some analysts see Smith’s approach as risky, both for Ukraine and the world. “Sending advanced missile systems with a range long enough to threaten the Russian state could not only prolong the war and cause more suffering for Ukrainians [but also] put Ukraine in a weaker position at the negotiating table,” wrote Ted Snider in a recent column for Responsible Statecraft.
Smith, who said Russia is “engaged in genocide” in parts of Ukraine and seeks to “enslave” the country, also pushed aside concerns that greater U.S. involvement there could lead to nuclear escalation.
“Putin has drawn like 12 different red lines already that we’ve crossed, and he hasn’t done anything because he knows, if he does anything to bring NATO in, he’s done,” he said. “There’s no way he wins if we come in, so I think we’re giving him too much ability to stare us down when we have a more than adequate deterrent, and we have more that we could be doing.”