McConnell says Biden should let Ukraine use U.S. weapons across Russian border

Republished from Kentucky Lantern

FRANKFORT — Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said Thursday that President Joe Biden should allow Ukraine to use U.S. weapons to launch attacks inside Russia.

McConnell said he’s “consistently argued” with the administration that its restriction against Ukraine launching U.S. weapons across the border into Russia “doesn’t make any sense at all.”

“I think they should be allowed to hit the Russians in Russia.” 

McConnell was speaking to media at a Kentucky National Guard hangar after an event in which Gov. Andy Beshear and General Haldane Lamberton, Kentucky’s adjutant general, thanked the state’s longest-serving U.S. senator for his role in bringing federal funds to military projects in Kentucky.

During his remarks to a crowd that included about 40 uniformed Guard members, McConnell renewed his warnings that Russia, China and Iran pose dangers to democracy. He likened today’s international challenges to the period before World War II. 

“We thought it would all go away if we just ignored it. That’s clearly not going to happen again this time, at least not without me making the contrary argument.”

McConnell called for increased defense spending as a deterrent to aggression and thanked the National Guard members for their service.

McConnell is stepping down at the end of the year as his party’s leader in the U.S. Senate but will continue to serve as a senator from Kentucky. His term ends in 2026.

Speaking briefly to media after the event, McConnell noted that the Biden administration is considering lifting its restriction to allow Ukraine to use U.S. weapons to launch counterattacks on installations and military personnel inside Russia. The restriction is intended to reduce the risk of the war escalating into other countries. 

McConnell said the Ukranians should be free to defend themselves with U.S. weapons, calling Ukraine’s self-defense “a way to stand up to the Russians without losing American personnel.”

In response to questions, McConnell said the rising isolationism among Republicans in Congress also is similar to before World War II and even after the war when Republicans opposed NATO and the Marshall Plan. The election of Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower, a general and leader of Allied forces in World War II, changed that, McConnell said. 

“What China, North Korea, Russia and Iran have in common is they are authoritarian dictators. It’s sort of a potential war between the authoritarians and the democracies. All of us who are threatened elect our leadership and so authoritarians are the people that we’re standing up to and we have to convince them the price of taking us on is too big a price for them to pay.”

McConnell said the U.S. and its many democratic allies from Europe to the Indo-Pacific are “all in this together.”

“The whole democratic world needs to stand up and they look to us for leadership.”

McConnell also said, “The cheapest way to be ready is to have your defense budget high enough and industrial base built enough that you never have the conflict in the first place.”

Kentucky National Guard members listen to Sen. Mitch McConnell Thursday at the Kentucky Guard’s aviation support facility in Frankfort. (Kentucky Lantern photo by Jamie Lucke)

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