The U.S. and Our Allies Must Take These Steps Now to Support Ukraine
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding Russia:
“Today, more than 100,000 Russian troops are holding positions along Ukraine’s eastern borders. More have been deployed to Belarus to threaten Ukraine from the north. For the second time in a decade, Vladimir Putin’s campaign to forcibly redraw the map of the European continent is on the verge of a massive escalation.
“For those of us who remember the Cold War, this strongman routine from stale Kremlin autocrats is familiar. But Ukraine is not a captive nation trapped behind the Iron Curtain. It’s a free, democratic, and sovereign European country.
“The proper response from the West should not be a mystery. The United States – and our allies – need to do four things, right now:
“First, we need to cut through the bureaucratic caution, inertia, and red tape that is slowing the delivery of military, economic, and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine. This help needs to arrive before Russian escalation, so our friends can defend themselves and prepare for what could be a cold and bloody winter.
“Ukraine is a proud, independent nation that wants to defend itself. But after years of combatting Russian aggression while simultaneously trying to tackle major political and economic reform, Ukraine needs help. It needs weapons. It needs communications equipment. It needs logistical and intelligence support.
“We should be building the logistical networks now to prepare to keep flowing support to Ukraine in the event of escalation. I’ve been encouraged by the United Kingdom and other allies who are already making serious commitments to this effort.
“Second, we need to bolster the defenses of our Eastern European NATO allies most threatened by Russia. This is a decision the NATO alliance as a whole should make, but if it doesn’t, the United States and other partners should not wait for consensus to act.
“We should strive for unity, but not at the expense of security. Our most nervous allies cannot get unilateral veto power over the policy of the greatest nation in world history.
“Yesterday, I was glad to hear that U.S. forces are finally moving to reinforce our Eastern Flank allies. I urged President Biden to take this step nearly two months ago. I hope this belated action will lead other NATO allies to follow suit.
“Third, we need to impose overdue sanctions now to confront a litany of Russian threats, including their use of energy as a geostrategic weapon. At the same time, let’s make clear we are prepared to impose even more devastating costs should Russia continue its aggression.
“Again, we may have differences of opinion with parts of Europe. But we have priorities here that run deeper than matching our most timid allies.
“As we consider sanctions, we should be honest about our past mistakes. In 2014 the Obama Administration and our EU partners tried to use sanctions to halt the conflict, deter further aggression against Ukraine, and compel Russia to comply with the Minsk Accords.
“These sanctions are still in place. But they have failed on all counts.
“For Ukrainians, this is not a frozen conflict but an ongoing one. Russia’s continued aggression is self-evident. Its Minsk commitments remain unfulfilled.
“We need to learn these lessons, avoid empty symbolism, and get ready to impose serious costs that could actually change Putin’s calculus.
“But we also know that sanctions alone are not enough. Putin’s behavior is a reminder there is no substitute for hard power. Deterrence is stronger when our enemies question whether their military plans can succeed.
“So, fourth and finally, we and our NATO allies need to take a hard look at growing security threats and commit to investing in defense capabilities to meet them.
“This means revisiting the 2% pledge. It means having hard conversations about building real military capabilities.
“When the Biden Administration abandoned Afghanistan last year, China and Russia were paying close attention. Now Russia is testing our resolve in Eastern Europe, and China is once again taking notes.
“Our adversaries understand their best path to outmaneuver America is to outspend our commitment to defense.
“So I hope President Biden will act swiftly to equip our European friends, reinforce our NATO allies, and punish Russian escalation. And we must also pay serious attention to equipping the U.S. military for the next threat.
“It is past time to invest in modernization, hypersonic weapons and our nuclear arsenal.
“And to encourage our European allies to wake up, follow our lead, and stand side-by-side against common threats.”
Related Issues: NDAA, Afghanistan, China, Russia