Yahoo News: Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger on the GOP, 'NAFO' and reasons to escalate in Ukraine
One result of the war, he said, is that it’s a windfall for U.S. and NATO intelligence about Russia’s true capabilities and will dramatically alter, if not upend, some of the core strategic assumptions of the past several decades. A few years ago the congressman traveled to Latvia, a NATO member state, where military officials briefed him on the likely outcome of a Russian invasion there, one that would automatically trigger Article 5, the organization's collective security guarantee.
“‘The Russians will take down all our comms,’ I was told. The Latvians were practicing signaling to each other with flags like old cavalry officers. They were going to be mere speed bumps before Russian tanks rolled deeper into Europe. Yet where’s all this electronic warfare genius the Russians were meant to have? Their drone capability? It just didn’t show up in Ukraine. I don’t know if we were able to counter that in the last five years or they just never had it to begin with. The T-80 tank the Ukrainians captured — it looks like an old tank with a new shell on it.”
Russia’s Potemkin army, the result of effective external propaganda as much as internal corruption and mismanagement, is one reason Kinzinger believes the United States and its allies can afford to bolster security assistance to Kyiv. “The escalation argument: I’m over it. It’s like a husband saying, ‘If you leave me, I’ll hit you harder and so you can’t go.’ We should stop self-deterring like this because all the evidence points to the Russians not being able to do much about anything. HIMARS aren’t even our best shit, and they’re helpless to counter them.”
The latest putative Kremlin red line is on long-range artillery known as the Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS), with 500-pound warheads that can be fired from HIMARS and travel as far as 190 miles. Thus far the White House has (at least publicly) ruled out sending such missiles to Ukraine for fear they’d be used to strike inside Russian territory, a fear Kinzinger believes is misplaced: “First of all, it’s disrespectful to the Ukrainians, who’ve been incredibly disciplined and faithful in not using U.S. weapons to strike Russia. Second, it’s not like they’re going to invade Moscow.”
There’s been some speculation as to how the Ukrainians managed to strike the Saki air base, in occupied Crimea, last month, destroying more than half of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet naval aviation group in the course of an hour. Valerii Zaluzhnyi, the commander in chief of Ukraine’s armed forces, recently claimed in print that the attack was a “series of successful missile strikes,” leading to further speculation that perhaps Ukraine already has or had a limited stockpile of ATACMS, which could have been provided either covertly by the U.S. or inconspicuously by another country.
Kinzinger wouldn’t comment on the Saki operation, but he did venture to say that “if we send ATACMS, there’s a benefit in doing it a little off the record; a certain number with preapproved targets. The Ukrainians can do a good job with a small supply of them. There are strategic supply lines 200 miles from the frontline they can easily hit. So I wish the administration wouldn’t counter-message on this question.”
One weapon system the U.S. did provide to Ukraine, in June with no publicity or fanfare, was the HARM anti-radiation missile, which Ukrainian technicians have managed to jury-rig so as to be fireable from their native MiG-29s and Su-27s. The HARM, according to Kinzinger, “turned the tide of the war” in Ukraine’s favor, “tracking and destroying Russian radars unimpeded.”
Kinzinger is also a proponent of training Ukrainian air force pilots on F-16s immediately. “I’ve met with some of their MiG pilots and our F-16 pilots," he said. "It’ll take three months to get the Ukrainians cross-trained to a competent degree. Then maybe Egypt can give Ukraine the airframes and we’ll backfill their inventory.”
Even if the war ends tomorrow, Kinzinger said, Ukraine will need a Western fleet of fighter jets to fend off another Russian attack, which he believes is inevitable — assuming Putin survives his calamitous invasion.
“There’s no doubt in five or 10 years he’ll try again.”You can find the full article on the Yahoo News website here.