My Caucus’ Statement on Ukraine

The Obama administration was bedeviled with a foreign policy nightmare. New Russian President Vladimir Putin was amassing Russia’s troops along the borders of Poland and its Baltic neighbors.

Worse, the Obama administration and the media were ignoring the warning signs. Obama refused to act against Putin, which ultimately turned out to be a terrible mistake. The United States lost the ability to determine who attacks it, and who will seek to encroach on our power.

Russian forces also extended their control into NATO countries in Eastern Europe. Moscow began testing its arsenal of nuclear weapons.

We can see Putin’s advances vividly on film. Ukraine now has nearly 7,000 troops in Crimea, and we don’t know how many Russian troops are in eastern Ukraine. The world can also see Putin’s moves with a sobering familiarity, as well as horror.

President Trump, in his foreign policy decisions, has already shown he can see the world for what it is: a collection of superpowers. He already has taken decisive steps against Russia’s aggression against the United States and our allies. Putin must now try to do what Obama never dared to do.

Recently, US representatives left Moscow on a two-day tour, which was aimed at demonstrating to the Russians our determination to fight Russian aggression. But after meeting with Putin, including lunch, my colleagues found no indication that they struck up any dialogue about Ukraine. Indeed, when one suggested to the president of the European Parliament that the Russians should stop defending the Ukrainian government that has resisted Putin’s aggression, a tired-looking Putin lectured him.

While I am encouraged by the actions of my colleagues and President Trump, I feel that Putin is using Obama’s weakness as cover to further increase Russia’s total control over much of Europe.

We all know what Putin is up to. The Ukrainian government is starved, oppressed, and starved of international goodwill. Russian media is openly bashing this country. It’s time we said something to Russia. As I said earlier this year, we need to keep strong pressure on Russia by using our economic power. I am deeply concerned that the Trump administration is withdrawing from the INF Treaty, despite European insistence that it’s vital to Ukraine.

The Obama administration, however, once again failed to deal with Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and its neighboring countries. American diplomats made some egregious comments about Russian aggression, but that is always good, short-term political fodder, not world leadership.

Under President Trump, however, we know what Putin really is, and we can fix the problem in Ukraine. I am therefore also hopeful that the administration will go after Russia for election interference.

Obama did nothing when it came to preventing Russia from meddling in the 2016 American elections. I am hopeful the Trump administration will correct the course Obama set. As of now, there is no verification that Russia interfered in the US election, and so far no accountability for those who perpetrated such attacks.

Putin poses a threat to our democracy. The US must continue to defend its democratic institutions from the Russian effort to undermine our will and our values. I am encouraged by President Trump’s recent move against Iran. But I believe that the US must also aggressively respond to Russia’s continuing aggression in Ukraine and around the world.

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