Texas Republican Michael McCaul said he will organize congressional hearings to highlight alleged war crimes committed by Russian forces in Ukraine, hoping the testimony will push some of his GOP colleagues to commit to additional military aid for Kiev.
In an interview with the Associated Press published on Tuesday, the high-ranking Republican argued that images of atrocities and other wartime horrors could serve as a powerful political tool. “I find that moves the dial, when they see these horrific killings of children,” said McCaul, who heads the influential House Foreign Affairs Committee.
While Democrats in Congress are largely unified on supplying an unlimited amount of money, weapons and ammunition to the Ukrainian government, a growing group of Republicans have called to curtail the security assistance, with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy previously insisting Kiev should not be handed a “blank check.”
With the hearings set for sometime in the spring, McCaul voiced hopes that fellow Republicans would be convinced to support increased aid, saying he is “very much focused on the dissension within my own party on this.”
Congress has already authorized over $100 billion in spending to aid Ukraine’s war effort, including direct military support, humanitarian assistance and financial aid for government agencies. In December, President Joe Biden signed a massive spending bill which set aside $45 billion for Kiev.
McCaul has long been one of Ukraine’s loudest supporters among House Republicans. After his party regained control of the lower chamber following November’s midterm elections, he declared that he would press for additional aid for Kiev, even criticizing Biden for failing to send more advanced weapons to the Ukrainian military.
Last week, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) introduced the Ukraine Fatigue Resolution, which, if passed, would express that “the US must end its military and financial aid to Ukraine” and urge “all combatants to reach a peace agreement.” The legislation has 10 cosponsors, all of them Republicans.
Gaetz said he introduced the measure because the United States cannot continue to “hemorrhage taxpayer dollars toward a foreign war,” also arguing that US intervention in Ukraine risks sparking another global conflict. “President Joe Biden must have forgotten his prediction from March 2022, suggesting that arming Ukraine with military equipment will escalate the conflict to ‘World War III,’” he said in a recent statement.
McCaul does not appear to share similar concerns about escalation, having called to provide Ukrainian forces with the Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS), a weapon with a range of nearly 200 miles. He has suggested the missile could be used for future attacks on Crimea, which was annexed by Moscow in 2014 and serves as a staging area for Russian operations in southern Ukraine. As the Kremlin considers the peninsula to be sovereign Russian territory, such attacks with US-made weapons risk stoking direct confrontation between Moscow and Washington.
Using alleged atrocities against children in support of American foreign policy objectives is not a new political stunt. In 1990, a 15-year-old Kuwaiti girl publicly identified only by her first name testified before the Congressional Human Rights Caucus and claimed to have witnessed Iraqi soldiers killing newborn babies following Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait the same year. While her testimony helped to rally support for US military intervention against Baghdad, the girl was later identified as the daughter of then-Kuwaiti ambassador to the US, Saud al-Sabah. Her story was concocted by American PR firm Hill & Knowlton as part of a public relations campaign organized by the Kuwaiti government, a fact that only came to light years after the Gulf War had ended.