WASHINGTON, May 1 (UPI) -- More military assets, including intelligence, surveillance and the arming of Ukraine to check Russian expansion are required, NATO Commander Gen. Philip Breedlove told a Senate committee.
Speaking Thursday to the Senate Armed Services Committee, Breedlove noted, "There are critical gaps in our collection and analysis. Some Russian military exercises have caught us by surprise. Getting this right requires more, high-powered analytical support, and appropriate intelligence sharing with allies and partners." He added the current lull in fighting between Ukrainian soldiers and pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine is a temporary quiet.
"I support the consideration of using offensive weapons to change the decision calculus on the ground (in eastern Ukraine) and to facilitate bringing our opponent to the table for a solution, a final solution,"
Although he said the U.S. European Command's highest current priority is defense and deterrence "against Russian aggression," he acknowledged other concerns, including Islamic State militants in Syria and on the doorstep of Turkey, a NATO member; migrants from Northern Africa and the Middle East pouring into Europe and what he called a "revanchist Russia," using a term indicating an attempt to reverse territorial losses.
"Our forces are not sized for any of those three challenges," he said.
When Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., asked Breedlove if the United States should send lethal aid to Ukraine, Breedlove did not directly endorse the idea but said, "It would not make sense to take any of our own tools off the table."
McCain added, "Nothing we have done has succeeded in deterring (Russian President Vladimir) Putin's aggression and halt his slow-motion annexation of eastern Ukraine. The Ukrainian people aren't asking for U.S. troops. They're simply asking for the right tools to defend themselves and their country."