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Washington, D.C.- House Foreign Affairs Committee Lead Republican Michael McCaul delivered the following opening statement at a full committee hearing with Secretary of State Antony Blinken. 


-Remarks as Delivered-

Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you, Mr. Secretary, for being here today. I also want to thank you for meeting with us when we were in Poland recently, we had a very good discussion in fact I’ve been there twice in the last month, but I will say our [bipartisan] delegation…came back resolved. More than ever that we need to help Ukraine win this war. And it was very bipartisan.

I also want to thank you, Sir, and the State Department for your efforts to bring Trevor Reed home to his family. I met with his parents many times. I want to thank the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs Roger Carstens and U.S. Ambassador John Sullivan, good friend of mine, who were really critical in bringing him home, securing his freedom. His parents are very grateful, sir, and we thank you and your team for that.

We’re currently witnessing the largest invasion in Europe since World War II, my father’s war. And as you know, the brutality is shocking. We just passed a war crimes bill, the chairman and I, on the floor, bipartisan, calling these out for what they are and holding Mr. Putin accountable as a war criminal. But the images of corpses littering the streets after Bucha, hands tied behind their backs, bullets in their heads, reports of mobile crematoriums being brought in to cover up the mounting body counts and cover up the evidence. The pregnant woman covered in blood being carried out of a recently bombed maternity hospital for God’s sakes. Tragically both she and her baby, you know, did not survive. But these are Putin’s war crimes. And he must be held accountable. He fancies himself as the glory of the Russian Empire. Yet his legacy will be that of a war criminal and yet in the face of these horrors, President Zelensky and the people of Ukraine have really inspired the world with their bravery and their determination.

And I appreciate the fact, sir,  that you went to Kiev with the Secretary of Defense to meet with them. I think that was very very important and I’d love to hear more about that visit. But you know they’re standing from these tanks, risking their lives to fight for their freedom. Freedom and against all odds, they’re holding off the invading horde. We were told four days, this would be over. We’re now into the third month. Mr. Putin has underestimated the Ukrainian people I think to his own peril and that’s why it’s critical, as you know, to get Ukraine the weapons they need to completely defeat Putin’s invasion now.

I appreciate the efforts made to get these desperately need weapons into the hands of Ukrainians once the war started. I wish more of these weapons had gone out before the invasion and not after. I know there was concern about provocation, provoking Putin. The President said, in my view, on critical weapons packages and the Spring of 2021 and again in November 2021. All the while Russia amassed its massive troops on the border. And as the battle for the Dombas heats up, the United States and our allies are only just now training Ukrainians on vital heavy weapons including MLRs, artillery air defenses, armed drones, and tanks. As President Zelensky put it, he said it’s unfair that Ukraine is still forced to ask for what its partners have been storing somewhere for years. If they have the weapons that Ukraine needs here, we need them now. If they have the ammunition that we need here are now, it is their moral duty, first of all, to help protect freedom and then he said help save the lives of thousands of Ukrainians.

As I’ve often said, the world is watching this is a historic time and history will judge us by how we respond and whether we learn from our mistakes. I will say the narrative has gone from “it will be over on four days” to “we need to help Ukraine defend themselves” to, I was very pleased to hear you and Secretary Austin say, “Ukraine can win.” And I think the narrative has changed with the American people as well as I see the horrific images coming out of these atrocities and I know with Mary Opal and once the dust settles we’re going to hear I think we just scratched the surface, unfortunately.

This unprovoked [war] on Ukraine has opened the world’s eyes to the threat, though, of other malign actors, primarily China, to our partner Taiwan. At the Winter Olympics, as you know, Putin and the Chinese Communist Party General Secretary Xi announced their Unholy Alliance, “no limits,” they call it, [a] compact against the United States and NATO. I think it was not a question of if but when and I think Putin made the calculation based on what he saw that this was the time. And we’re very worried that President Xi may make the same calculation. I hope with Putin’s miscalculation, however, and his lack of success if you will he will change that paradigm. But they just reached a secret military agreement between the Solomon Islands, China did, which took us all by surprise.

These are the very islands that my father’s generation fought and died for to liberate during World War II and now it’s under the thumb of the CCP. It’s clear that they are preparing for some sort of conflict whether it’s by military or otherwise. And I think the United States must act now to prevent such an invasion we must also make sure our defense industrial base is embracing innovation to make weapons more quickly using 21st-century technology. In short, our Arsenal democracy needs rejuvenation and that may be for a longer discussion so that we could have but the slow pace of these weapons that the chairman and I sign off on not going out raises concerns.

Turning to Afghanistan Republicans and Democrats alike expressed alarm over the administration’s failure to prepare for the fallout of the withdrawal. We were promised that this will be planned for all contingencies but in the end, 13 soldiers died during the evacuation, hundreds of American citizens and tens of thousands of Afghan Partners were left behind. I  will be releasing an interim report very soon outlining what our investigation has discovered so far and I look forward to discussing that report with you, sir. At the end of the day, we’re in this together and it’s in the interest of the free world to defeat the evils of Mr. Putin and all of our foreign nation adversary countries. And with that, I yield back.