Former Ambassador to Ukraine Says Biden Has Been 'Weak' on Sending Weapons

Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine John Herbst said he wishes President Joe Biden had acted more aggressively in the months leading up to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, saying that the administration should have sent weapons to Ukraine back in 2021.

"We have a vital stake in stopping [Russia President Vladimir] Putin in Ukraine. Ukraine is gonna fight, Ukrainian's gonna fight for their sovereignty and for their lives," Herbst said on a Thursday appearance on SiriusXM Business Radio's "The Business Briefing."

"We're not saying to Ukraine, 'We're gonna send our troops to fight with you,' but we should be sending major weapon systems. And the Biden Administration has been weak on that," he said. "They only start to send additional weapons about four weeks ago. They should have sent them back in the spring when Russia first threatened this. And they've not been sending things like our stinger missiles, which kill helicopters and low flying aircraft."

Just before dawn, Russian troops began invading Ukraine from three sides, launching a series of missiles near Kyiv and moving quickly into the eastern and central regions of the country.

The attack has been the biggest since World War II and has sent U.S. and Western allies scrambling to impose stronger sanctions against Russia in hopes of deescalating the situation and defending the sovereignty of Ukraine.

In a midday speech, Biden announced new measures, including bans on exports to Russia and sanctions against Belarus' banks and defense industry over its role in the Russian assault.

While Herbst, who was the Ambassador to Ukraine from 2003 to 2006, argued the White House should be sending more weapons, he praised the latest response from Biden, calling this week's sanctions "excellent."

John Herbst Ukraine Biden Russia Weapons
Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine John Herbst said the Biden administration "should have sent [weapons to Ukraine] back in the Spring when Russia first threatened this." Here, Herbst speaks in front of the Lincoln Memorial during a rally in support of Ukraine on February 20. Kenny Holston/Stringer

"We've let our Baltic allies send older generation stingers. We should be sending lots of our stingers now. We should all be sending more potent anti-aircraft missiles. We're not, we haven't done that," Herbst said. "So those are some of the mistakes they've made, but they've gotten much stronger in this crisis, the Biden team, and the sanctions they laid down this week are excellent."

He emphasized the historical importance of Thursday's invasion and warned that the possibility of a third world war would threaten the level of wealth made possible in 2022.

"It is an absolutely critical moment, not just for the U.S., not just for the West, but for the entire world," he said. "We created—we in the first sense of the United States, but also, especially with our European partners—this extraordinary system at the end of World War II...and it was based upon rules, upon rules that were supposed to be the same for everybody."

"As a result of these institutions [like NATO, IMF and the World Bank] in this order, there has not been a war between two large powers since 1945. Such major wars, like World War II, are the great destroyers of people and wealth," he added. "So the world today is wealthy in a way that never has been and despite all the chaos, it is far more peaceful today than it has ever been historically because there's not been major power war."