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A group of 16 Democratic and Republican senators on Tuesday asked Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin for explanations on the country’s alleged refusal to send MQ-1C Gray Eagle combat drones to Ukraine.
Their missive, spearheaded by Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Joni Ernst (R-IA), makes clear that such weaponry has the potential to turn the tide of the conflict in Ukraine’s favor and would endow its forces with greater lethality against the Russian offensive.
The press has reported this month that Washington is refusing to send such combat drones to Ukraine to avoid escalating tensions with Russia and has also noted that it is studying how to downgrade its power if it does so.
The senators stressed that although the Ukrainians’ advances on the battlefield are encouraging, Russia’s will to conquer Ukraine remains “intact” and the delivery of “lethal” weaponry to stabilize Ukrainian defense remains “urgent.”
As they recall, Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov and Ukrainian Ambassador to the United States Oksana Markarova have repeatedly requested the delivery of MQ-1C Gray Eagle, which in the senators’ opinion complement well both Turkish TB-2 drones and HIMARS rocket launcher systems.
A Russian victory in Ukraine, they warned, would “significantly damage American security and prosperity.”
The group is asking Lloyd to provide his response by November 30 at the latest on the escalation risks identified by the Department of Defense and how they can be mitigated, among other concerns that the use of such material raises for the authorities.
Since the beginning of the Russian invasion last February 24, the United States has mobilized more than $18.6 billion in defensive aid to Ukraine which includes “phantom” drones and anti-aircraft defense systems.