In a Friday letter to President Joe Biden, Reps. Mike Rogers (R-AL) and Mike Turner (R-OH) called for the U.S. to send more weapons to Ukraine and “deploy a U.S. military presence in the Black Sea” near Ukraine.
The letter to Biden, which was first reported by Defense News, comes as satellite images last week observed an estimated 90,000 Russian troops gathering near the Ukrainian border and in temporarily occupied Ukrainian territories.
“With the recent massing of Russian forces on the Ukrainian border, we urge your administration to take immediate and swift action to provide support to Ukraine in the form of intelligence and weapons,” the letter states.
In their letter, Rogers and Turner said “we also urge your administration to deploy a U.S. military presence in the Black Sea to deter a Russian invasion.” The lawmakers added that Biden’s administration “cannot ignore Russia’s continued threat to international law and Ukraine’s territorial sovereignty.”
Rogers is the ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) and Turner is the ranking member of HASC’s Strategic Forces Subcommittee.
Rogers and Turner sent their letter about a week after leaders from both Ukraine and Romania called on the U.S. and other western nations to bolster their military presence in the Black Sea, near Ukraine.
Defense News reported that Romania’s envoy to the U.S. Andrei Muraru wrote, in an October 26 letter, that “credible deterrence can be assured only through solid presence.”
Muraru called for an “increasing U.S. military presence in Romania in all domains ― land, air, and sea ― including a U.S. command and control structure” and called for “securing the NATO Eastern Flank in a unitary and coherent manner from the Baltic to the Black Sea, by implementing a single Forward Presence along the entire Flank that ensures stronger defense and reduces current vulnerabilities caused by the undeniable deterrence gap for the Black Sea region.”
In an October 29 letter, Ukraine’s Envoy to the U.S. Oksana Markarova wrote, “Russia has established the large anti-access/area-denial (A2AD) exclusion zone on [the Black Sea]. The NATO’s ability to defend its member-states and provide possible assistance to the third countries (Ukraine and Georgia) has been severely undermined.”
This latest Russian military buildup near Ukraine comes just months after an estimated 100,000 Russian troops gathered along the Ukrainian border for weeks in March and April. Russia’s military later declared the massive troop buildup had just been a surprise readiness check.
In their letter, Rogers and Turner expressed uncertainty about the true intentions of this latest Russian troop buildup.
“Although Russia’s intentions are uncertain, the presence of Russia’s elite 1st Guard Tanks Army lends credibility to concerns that Russia is planning additional incursions into Ukraine territory,” the lawmakers wrote.
Rogers and Turner raised further concerns about Russia’s increasingly aggressive behavior in the face of current U.S. efforts to assist Ukraine. They said that in the months since the Biden administration committed to providing $60 million in military aid this past summer, Russia’s military activity has only increased. Rogers and Turner called on the Biden administration to increase lethal aid to Ukraine “to deter and repel a renewed Russian incursion.”