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Dave DeCamp

Rep. Adam Smith Says Calls for Ukraine Aid Oversight are ‘Russian Propaganda’

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Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA), the head of the House Armed Services Committee, said Saturday that the growing calls for more oversight of the billions of dollars the US is spending on Ukraine are “part of Russian propaganda.”

While the majority of Republicans strongly favor continuing to arm Ukraine, even the more hawkish GOP members have said they favor increased oversight for the aid. Smith said that the concern from Republicans for more transparency “makes me a little crazy.”

“Ukraine is spending the money really well; that’s why they’re winning,” Smith said at the Reagan National Defense Forum, according to Defense News. “Yes, we need oversight, but we don’t need that as an excuse to not fund what we’re doing.”

Last month, a small group of House Republicans opposed to arming Ukraine led by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) introduced a bill that would require an audit of the funds that the US has spent on the war so far. Greene said that if she needed to, she would reintroduce the legislation after the next Congress is sworn in this January.

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NATO Doubles Down on Pledge to Eventually Admit Ukraine

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NATO on Tuesday doubled down on its pledge to eventually admit Ukraine during a meeting of the alliance’s foreign ministers in Bucharest, Romania, a position that played a major role in provoking Russia’s invasion.

The Romanian city was where NATO initially made the promise to Ukraine back in 2008, and at the time, US officials acknowledged that attempting to bring the country into the alliance could spark a war in the region.

“We made the decision in Bucharest in 2008 at the summit,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Tuesday. “I was there … representing Norway as Prime Minister. I remember very well the decisions. We stand by those decisions. NATO’s door is open.”

In a joint statement, the NATO foreign ministers, including Secretary of State Antony Blinken, said that they “reaffirm” the decisions that were made at the 2008 Bucharest summit.

CIA Director William Burns wrote a cable in 2008, when he was the US ambassador to Russia, that said promising NATO memberships to Ukraine as well as Georgia touches a “raw nerve” in Russia and raises serious security concerns for Moscow.

Burns wrote: “Not only does Russia perceive encirclement, and efforts to undermine Russia’s influence in the region, but it also fears unpredictable and uncontrolled consequences which would seriously affect Russian security interests.”
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House Republicans Introduce Resolution to Audit Ukraine Aid

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A group of House Republicans introduced a bill Thursday to audit the funds that Congress has approved to spend on the war in Ukraine.

The effort is being led by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) and supported by a group of Republicans that have been critical of US aid to Ukraine. The resolution’s cosponsors include Reps. Thomas Massie (KY), Matt Gaetz (FL), Barry Moore (AL), Andrew Clyde (GA), and Cory Mills, a representative-elect from Florida.

According to The Hill, Greene introduced the bill as a privileged resolution, meaning it will be sent to the relevant committee, which will have 14 business days to either reject the legislation or approve it for a vote on the House floor.

If the bill is not discussed by the committee within 14 days, Greene has the option to force a House vote. Greene said she’s prepared to reintroduce the bill in the next Congress when Republicans have a majority in the House.

“I’ll introduce this resolution again, but I’ll also be calling for a full audit. We voted ‘no’ to send money over there, but we’re also going to audit what’s happening in Ukraine,” Greene said.


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Congressional Delegation in Kyiv Wants US Military Advisors Sent to Ukraine

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A bipartisan group of House lawmakers visited Kyiv on Saturday, and two members of the delegation told Fox News that they support the idea of the Pentagon sending military advisors to Ukraine, which would significantly escalate US involvement in the war.

After meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Rep. Michael Waltz (R-FL) said he supported sending military advisors into Ukraine to oversee weapons shipments and help with intelligence and logistics. “It could be contracted, it could be civilian, but it could be military as well,” he said.

“I don’t think anybody is advocating for any [American] military on the front line, but helping with logistics, planning those operations, integrating the intelligence is incredibly important right now,” Waltz added said.

Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ) also expressed support for sending military advisors to track weapons shipments. “It would be good to have a logistics officer here to make sure that we understand and track the weaponry that we’re sending,” she said.
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US Implies Ukraine Can Use HIMARS Against Russian Targets in Crimea

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The State Department on Sunday implied that Ukrainian forces are allowed to use US-provided High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) against Russian targets in Crimea, which Russia has controlled since 2014.

When the US first announced it was sending HIMARS to Ukraine, Biden administration officials said they received “assurances” from Ukrainian officials that the rockets won’t be used to target Russian territory.

When asked if the ban on Ukraine using the HIMARS to target Russian territory applies to Crimea, a State Department spokesperson told Antiwar.com, “Crimea is Ukraine.”

“The United States does not and will never recognize Russia’s purported annexation of Crimea. We will continue to stand up against Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified war against the people of Ukraine,” the spokesperson said.

On Saturday, a Ukrainian intelligence official said that Ukrainian forces should start attacking Russian facilities in Crimea and suggested US-provided HIMARS could be used for such strikes.
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US Officials Say US Intelligence Is Helping Ukraine Kill Russian Generals

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According to a report from The New York Times citing unnamed senior US officials, intelligence provided by the US on Russian military units has helped Ukraine target and kill Russian generals.

Ukraine has claimed to have killed 12 Russian generals, but the number is not confirmed, and Kyiv has an interest in exaggerating its success on the battlefield, and the officials wouldn’t specify how many Russian officers were killed as a result of the assistance. But either way, the claim by US officials that they are helping kill Russian generals is a major provocation toward Moscow.

Like other US assistance to Ukraine, the claim raises questions about at what point Russia will consider the US to be a co-belligerent in the war. The officials said that the targeting of Russian generals is part of a Biden administration effort to share real-time targeting intelligence with Ukraine.

The officials said that the US is focusing on sharing intelligence on the location of Russia’s mobile military headquarters. They said the US assistance combined with Ukraine’s own intelligence allows Ukrainian forces to target Russian officers.
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Watchdog: US Aid to Venezuela Was Used to Push Regime Change

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A report from the US Agency for International Development’s (USAID) watchdog found that aid allocated for Venezuela in 2019 was used as part of the Trump administration’s failed regime change effort.

In January 2019, the US and many of its allies recognized Juan Guaido as the interim president of Venezuela in an attempt to unseat Nicolas Maduro. As part of this policy, USAID started coordinating aid deliveries with Guaido.

The report from USAID’s Inspector General reads: “In January and February 2019, the US Government identified USAID’s humanitarian assistance for Venezuelans as also serving as a key tool to elevate support to the Venezuelan Interim Government and increase pressure on the Maduro regime.”

In February 2019, USAID sent 368 tons of aid worth $2 million to the Colombia-Venezuela border and the Caribbean island of Curacao. A media frenzy ensued as the Trump administration tried to force the Venezuelan government to accept the aid.

Since the US was calling for Maduro to be overthrown, he did not allow the trucks carrying the aid to enter the country from Colombia and stopped them at the border. One truck was set on fire, which US media outlets initially blamed on Venezuelan forces. But it turned out the blaze was started by a molotov cocktail thrown from the Colombian side of the border.
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Biden Administration Announces Plan to Combat ‘Domestic Extremism’

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On Friday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki announced that President Biden ordered three US intelligence agencies to review the threat of “domestic violent extremism.”

Since pro-Trump demonstrators stormed the US Capitol building on January 6th, calls to combat “domestic terrorism” have been growing. Before January 6th, Biden’s transition team had said they were planning to pass laws against domestic terrorism, and the Capitol incident has made it a top priority.

“The January 6th assault on the Capitol and the tragic deaths and destruction that occurred underscored what we have long known. The rise of domestic violent extremism is a serious and growing national security threat,” Psaki said.

Psaki went on to outline the first steps the Biden administration is taking. She said Biden ordered the newly confirmed Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines to conduct a threat assessment along with the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security.
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