Democrat and Republican Senators Hail Biden Decision to Send Tanks to Ukraine

biden tanks
iStock, SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP via Getty Images

Both Democrat and Republican senators on Thursday hailed President Joe Biden’s decision to send 31 Abrams main battle tanks to Ukraine in the face of decreasing American public backing for indefinite support for the embattled country.

Biden characterized the decision as helping to “defend” Ukraine, amid concerns it is an escalatory move in the nearly one-year long war, which began when Russia invaded Ukraine last February.

“That’s what this is about: helping Ukraine defend and protect Ukrainian land. It is not an offensive threat to Russia. We are — there is no offensive threat to Russia,” Biden said.

A poll released last month by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs showed that while 65 percent of Americans supported supplying Ukraine with weapons, only 48 percent said the U.S. should support Ukraine for “as long as it takes” — a 10 percent drop from July.

The tanks came as part of a package that brings U.S. military assistance to over $27.8 billion and overall U.S. aid to Ukraine to more than $113 billion since the beginning of the war.

Nonetheless, there were few voices of dissent over Biden’s decision from the Senate.

The Senate’s No. 2 Democrat Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) tweeted: “I’m in strong support of @POTUS sending these tanks in step with our European allies to help repel Russia.”

Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE), a close Biden ally, tweeted, “Great news. … I’m glad President Biden is continuing to give them the tools they need as they prepare for a spring counteroffensive.”

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) tweeted, “Significant, strong show of support. American tanks will be instrumental in the spring offensive against Putin’s barbaric assault.”

Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) tweeted, “By sending tanks to the brave Ukrainians fighting for their freedom, we’re joining our allies and committing to provide aid where we can to help make sure Putin loses this war that he chose.”

Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI) tweeted, “During WWII, Michigan was the ‘Arsenal of Democracy. Now we’re defending democracy abroad again by helping to build these tanks — which will support Ukrainian efforts in Russia’s illegal war. We stand with Ukraine & Michiganders of Ukrainian descent.”

Although there was one Republican lone voice that criticized the decision — Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) — other Republicans hailed the decision and said it was long overdue.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), the top Republican in the Senate said in a statement, “I was happy to learn yesterday and this morning that, indeed, both the White House and their counterparts in Germany are finally moving forward with these overdue steps.”

“Modern Main Battle Tanks will provide highly maneuverable, armored firepower that will help Ukraine liberate territory and keep pressure on the Russian aggressors, but time is of the essence,” he said, calling on the West to do more. He also called for “serious work to expand the capacity of our defense industrial base.”

Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS), member of the Armed Services Committee, also called it a “welcome development,” and said the decision “should have been made months ago.”

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) said, “The correct decision again comes too late.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham said in a video statement on Twitter: “Very pleased that the Biden administration has finally decided to supply American tanks to the Ukraine.”

Hawley — the lone voice of criticism — tweeted: “Another Forever War — while China runs rampant, undeterred.”

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