Lloyd Austin, Defense Secretary, admitted that the goal was to stop Russian President Vladimir Putin from invading Ukraine. Rep. Mike Gallagher (R.WI), asked Austin if he shared Tod Wolters’ goal of European Command Command Commander Air Force General Tod Wolters deterring Putin’s invasion. Austin responded:
General Wolters is the Secretary of Defense. I believe he shares my goals. Number one, I wanted to defend the country. Number two, I wanted to make sure that NATO is unified and protected if necessary. Provide security force support for Ukraine. Fourth, manage escalation.
Gallagher asked: “So the goal wasn’t to deter Putin from invading Ukraine?”
Austin responded, “I’ve just laid out my goals and certainly-.” Gallagher noted that this didn’t include Putin visiting Ukraine, except if it was missed.”
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Austin acknowledged that it wasn’t a goal of deter Putin, but also said that deterrence will fail if forces are not deployed and that that was something the administration had taken off the table.
Austin said, “Well, that was an object of government deter Putin. However, General Milley explained that it is very difficult to put troops on the ground if you don’t have them. We made the decision early in this effort to ensure that no troops will be sent into Ukraine to combat Russia.
Gallagher asked Austin whether there was anything they could do to disarm Putin.
Austin admitted that the U.S. could have deterred Putin if it had sent troops to Ukraine. The administration refused to do this.
General Milley stated that sending forces into Ukraine to fight Putin would be a totally different story. We took the right decision, and we decided not to go. He stated that he supported these decisions.
Nadia Schadlow, a former top Trump administration official and senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, is here to talk about her experience. While sending U.S. troops to Ukraine was a wise policy decision, it isn’t something you want to make public to the enemy. It undermines effectiveness deterrence.
The White House could not clearly state its position in the crisis. But that doesn’t necessarily mean we will send troops to Ukraine. There is a distinction. It is important to recognize that deterrence can be undermined by saying, “We won’t make this”, all the time since December.
Putin is sending a wrong message by constantly stating what we won’t do in December, January and February.
She stated, “These policies may be right…but you don’t want to broadcast all your options to your enemies, you want complexity to the enemy.” All options should be available.
Gallagher said in a statement to Breitbart News, that Gallagher “Yesterday’s hearing confirmed the arguments made in the months prior to the Russian invasion: Only American ground power in Ukraine could stop Vladimir Putin’s barbaric invasion.”
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