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Esper says Biden administration had ‘shaky start’ to Ukraine war

Former Defense Secretary Mark Esper said in an interview on Sunday that he has had a “mixed” reaction to the Biden administration’s handling of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

“They had a shaky start,” Esper said on CBS’s “60 Minutes.” 

“I would have never taken the military option off the table for example. I don’t understand the reluctance to provide the Ukrainians with MiGs – fighter jets,” he added.

“But since then, it’s picked up I think,” he said. “We’re now flowing more supplies, material and weapons into Ukraine. I think they’ve done a good job of bringing allies along which is important.” 

Esper also praised Congress’s reaction to the crisis, calling it “one of the few issues that has unified Congress has been this one support for Ukraine.”

Just last week, the Biden administration announced it would send a $150 million security assistance package to Ukraine that would include artillery munitions, radars and other equipment. 

That followed two other $800 million packaged announced by the Biden administration in recent weeks, as well as what it hopes will be $33 package to support Ukraine through September.

However, the administration has said since the war began that it would not send U.S. troops into the fight, and has opposed proposals to send war planes to Ukraine or impose a no-fly zone over the country.

Esper’s appearance on 60 Minutes comes just days before the release of his new book, “A Sacred Oath,” which is set to be out on Tuesday.

Excerpts from the book have already made headlines in recent days, with Esper allegating that former President Trump suggested shooting protesters in D.C. and firing missiles into Mexico to deal with cartels.

Esper served as defense secretary until he was fired in November 2020 following arguments with Trump regarding police brutality and the response to protests over racial inequality in the U.S.

Tags Donald Trump Joe Biden Mark Esper Mark Esper President Joe Biden Russia-Ukraine war

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File - A Chevrolet Bolt is displayed at the Philadelphia Auto Show, Jan. 27, 2023, in Philadelphia. Electric vehicles are far less reliable than gasoline-powered cars, trucks and SUVs, mainly because most automakers are still learning how to build a completely new power system, according to this year's auto reliability survey by Consumer Reports.(AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)
File - A Chevrolet Bolt is displayed at the Philadelphia Auto Show, Jan. 27, 2023, in Philadelphia. Electric vehicles are far less reliable than gasoline-powered cars, trucks and SUVs, mainly because most automakers are still learning how to build a completely new power system, according to this year's auto reliability survey by Consumer Reports.(AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

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In this photo released by the Governor of Sevastopol, Mikhail Razvozhayev telegram channel, a rescuer gestures as he helps people during an evacuation after storm and flooding in Sevastopol, Crimea, Monday, Nov. 27, 2023. A storm in the Black Sea took down power grids and left almost half a million people without power after it flooded roads, ripped up trees and damaged buildings in Crimea, Russian state news agency Tass said. (Governor of Sevastopol Mikhail Razvozhayev's telegram channel via AP)
In this photo released by the Governor of Sevastopol, Mikhail Razvozhayev telegram channel, a rescuer gestures as he helps people during an evacuation after storm and flooding in Sevastopol, Crimea, Monday, Nov. 27, 2023. A storm in the Black Sea took down power grids and left almost half a million people without power after it flooded roads, ripped up trees and damaged buildings in Crimea, Russian state news agency Tass said. (Governor of Sevastopol Mikhail Razvozhayev's telegram channel via AP)

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