‘Let me finish … Let ME finish!’ Dogged journo spars with a defensive Psaki over US weapons in Ukraine

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(Video Credit: The White House)

White House press secretary Jen Psaki locked horns with Gray TV White House correspondent Jon Decker on Wednesday when he aggressively grilled her on how a wide array of weapons supplied to Ukraine by the United States could be deemed “defensive” and not “offensive.”

His premise was a comparison of manned fighter aircraft with firearms such as rifles and shotguns that have “offensive” capabilities. Psaki unsuccessfully tried to thread that needle concerning lethal assistance to the war-torn country.

“You put out a list of all of the military equipment…” Decker began during the briefing.

“Yeah,” Psaki responded.

“…included in that $400 million — $800 million…” he continued.

“Yeah,” Psaki repeated.

“…that’s being provided to Ukraine. Among those items — let me read them to you: 100 grenade launchers, 5,000 rifles, 1,000 pistols, 400 machine guns, and 400 shotguns. Are you saying those items are not offensive weapons?” he asked her.

“They’re weapons that help the Ukrainian people fight against an invasion by a foreign country,” Psaki defensively answered.

“They can be used offensively, can they not?” Decker asserted.

“Again, they are weapons. What I’m talking about is weapons that can be used to fight…” Psaki started to answer.

“The answer is ‘yes.’ The answer is ‘yes.’ I mean, although you don’t want to say it, that answer to that question is ‘yes.’ And so, obviously, you’re trying to make this distinction between offensive and defensive weapons…” he claimed.

“Well, what we’re talking about — let me finish. Let me finish,” Psaki said to Decker showing irritation.

“Well, let me finish because I give you my point…” he answered.

“Let me finish my answer,” Psaki snapped.

“You make — no, you weren’t — no, I was finishing a point, and then you can respond to my point,” Decker asserted.

“Okay, go ahead,” Psaki conceded.

“All right. You’re making this distinction between offensive and defensive weapons. Anybody that looks at that list of weapons that I just mentioned, they would say, clearly, they’re offensive,” he aggressively pointed out.

“If a Ukrainian military officer or someone who is enlisted has one of these weapons, they can take out a Russian military official of some sort with these weapons. They’re offensive in nature. So, why not provide more offensive weapons like this to the Ukrainian military?” he pointedly asked the press secretary.

“Well, first of all, we are providing a range of rifles, et cetera. There is a difference between a plane and planes and massive military systems — I think anybody would recognize this — and what we’re talking about, which is giving rifles and pistols to many of them farmers and people living in countrysides to defend themselves. I think there’s a difference that most people recognize,” Psaki disingenuously answered before fleeing the room abruptly.

Numerous reporters asked Psaki about the Biden administration providing lethal assistance against Russian planes while refusing to send manned aircraft into the fray. The president has made it clear previously the reasoning behind not sending aircraft to Ukraine is because he fears Russia blaming NATO and the United States, drawing them further into the conflict.

David Sanger of The New York Times also put Psaki on the spot, according to the New York Post, noting that ground-based weapons can shoot down Russian planes.

“I think you just said that you didn’t want to have NATO pilots bringing down Russian planes. But under the administration’s policy of moving out this long-range anti-aircraft [weaponry], it’s OK to have NATO equipment bringing down Russian planes, as long as it’s launched by Ukrainians?” Sanger remarked.

“I think you’ve heard us talk a fair amount about … the planes from Poland — and again, Poland is a sovereign country so they can make decisions on their own but we have done is done an assessment of our role, the US role, and what our view would be of NATO — of these planes taking off from NATO airspace,” Psaki told him. “Again, I would note that the equipment that we’ve provided is defensive and, you know, not offensive and we see that as being a difference.”

Sanger then asked if the difference was that “the planes could be used for offensive purpose and the anti-missile systems cannot.”

“Correct. Correct,” Psaki replied.

President Joe Biden signed the Ukraine military aid package on Wednesday that will provide 2,000 Javelin missiles, light-anti-armor, AT-anti-armor systems, millions of small arms ammunition, and grenade launcher and mortar rounds, according to a White House fact sheet. The package did not include Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s request for a no-fly zone and fighter jets.


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