Nearly a week after Russian forces invaded Ukraine, the U.S. and Germany have delivered at least 700 Stinger anti-aircraft missiles to the beleaguered underdog Ukrainians.
But Rep. Michael Waltz does not seem impressed.
The Florida Republican, who is the first Green Beret elected to Congress, complained that Ukraine should have had those weapons months ago – when they were asking for them.
“The stingers didn’t start arriving until about a week ago. They should have had them. They should have had them on day one. Those things should have been shooting up from Kharkiv, from Kyiv, from the border,” Waltz told Breitbart News on Wednesday in an interview.
Waltz recalled meeting with Ukrainian officials three months ago, and noted they were wondering then when the U.S. might start shipping military weaponry to counter the Russian menace.
Waltz said those officials were “incredibly frustrated” as President Vladimir Putin fed the build-up along Ukraine’s eastern border. Waltz was in Ukraine visiting Florida National Guard troops deployed there. Those troops were ordered home about a week before Putin invaded.
“The Ukrainians that I met with were incredibly frustrated in December that they didn’t, they weren’t getting what they asked for,” Waltz told Breitbart. “How much more effective would they be right now if they had more Javelins, more body armor, more stingers?”
Breitbart noted past reporting by CNN that indicated the Biden administration was wary of sending Stingers to Ukraine because of concern Putin would see the move as escalatory.
Waltz also was unimpressed by the $350 million aid package the administration put together for Ukraine, which included at least 200 Stingers that entered that nation on Monday.
“Where did $350 million dollars come from? Why not $250 million? Why not $500 million? Why that number, was that a needs-based assessment? If you look at the breakdown, it’s really not enough. It’s about enough to equip a battalion,” Waltz told Breitbart.
“I don’t think what we’re providing is what the Ukrainians need. It’s nowhere near what they need. Even if you start adding up the other allied contributions. It’s nowhere near,” he said.
What has impressed Waltz is the leadership demonstrated by Ukraine’s chief executive.
“The main thing you need is a demonstrated will to fight and [Ukrainian President Volodymyr] Zelensky has galvanized his population, and the Russians have made a strategic mistake in not being able to shut down the commercial internet. Every day that [Zelensky] is on television, the Europeans have been shamed into doing more,” he told Breitbart.
“I think he has done far more than what Biden has taken credit in terms of unifying NATO, galvanizing the world and unifying his own people,” he added.
Along those lines, Waltz expressed concern for Zelensky and encouraged him to move farther from the front.
“On one hand, I admire Zelensky in standing strong and all his great quotes, but on the other hand, over the long term, he has to live, he has to survive, he has to keep his government intact. And I can certainly see a scenario where he displaces to Lviv, stays inside Ukraine,” Waltz told Breitbart.