Report: Defense Secretary Warned Congress U.S. Troops Could Be Deployed If Ukraine Aid Is Not Sent

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin speaks during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on
Patrick Semansky, Pool/AP

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin warned Congress on Tuesday during a private briefing that if they do not pass more aid to Ukraine, it would “very likely” lead to U.S. troops fighting a war in Europe.

“If [Vladimir] Putin takes over Ukraine, he’ll get Moldova, Georgia, then maybe the Baltics,” House Foreign Affairs Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX) told The Messenger, after Austin and other senior Biden administration officials briefed House lawmakers on their request for more aid for Ukraine.

“And then the idea that we’ll have to put troops on the ground in Secretary Austin’s word was very likely,” McCaul added. “That’s what we’re trying to avoid.”

The Messenger reported that the warning “did little” to win over Republican skeptics, who oppose more aid to Ukraine without more accountability and transparency on how it will help Ukraine.

House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) told the outlet, “I don’t think we got the clarity that we’ve been requesting,” and that “It remains to be seen whether members are satisfied with the answers provided.”

The Biden administration has requested a $106 billion aid package from Congress, with the bulk of it — $61 billion — going to Ukraine. That would be an addition to the $113 billion that has been allocated to support Ukraine in its war with Russia since February 2022.

Rep. John Duarte (R-CA) told the Messenger that the briefing was “prescriptive and staged.”

“I didn’t get a sense that any minds were changed in there,” he said. “It wasn’t impressive or insightful in any way other than what you might see in the news. It was just a hopeful pressure effort.”

Duarte reportedly said President Joe Biden needed to “start negotiating and quit screwing around with vacuous briefings that tell us things we already know.”

Rep. Byron Donalds (R-FL) told The Messenger the classified Ukraine briefing was “boring,” and said, “These guys are just speechifying about most of the stuff you guys already report on the news.”

“Joe Biden needs to do his job, secure our border,” he added. “You do that, then members of Congress will talk.”

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