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tv   Senate Republicans Hold News Conference on Ukraine  CSPAN  January 20, 2022 2:01am-2:51am EST

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you can find them all on the c-span now mobile app or wherever you get your podcasts. >> a group of republican senators held a news conference to discuss, -- tensions between russia and the ukraine. several of the members have returned from at 48 hour trip to ukraine and called on president biden to support -- supply lethal weapons to the country to deter russia.
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it's expensive in both blood and treasure. and the president said he's pointed that out to president putin and that's something that needs to be underscored.
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with that, senator ernst. senator ernst: thank you, everyone. and last week, we witnessed the left's actions, which were the election takeover hysteria and it overshadowed what's happening between russia and ukraine and oddly enough, with all the discussion today, senate democrats filibustered -- yes, i said that correctly -- they filibustered an effort to reinstate sanctions on the nord stream 2 pipeline, and tonight, they'll try and change the filibuster. this was actually a gift to putin. their actions allowed -- allowing the completion of the nord stream 2 pipeline gives russia very powerful means to isolate our democratic partner,
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ukraine, and it's more of the biden foreign policy doctrine which is appeasement of our foreign adversaries. i consistently urged the biden administration to prevent completion of nord stream 2 and actively support and bolster ukraine's military. the secretary of state's negotiations over the last several weeks -- and it's been pretty clear -- they are designed to de-escalate, but they failed because putin doesn't take this president, they don't take his threats, and they certainly don't take his leadership seriously. they are looking at afghanistan. and did we not learn our lesson with afghanistan? we have 10,000 to 15,000 americans in ukraine. 10,000 to 15,000. and what i haven't heard from this administration is, what are
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we doing for americans that live in ukraine? again, have we not learned our lessons from afghanistan? president biden needs to stop appeasing putin. he needs to stop it right now. and as my colleagues have stated, once they have pushed on an invasion into ukraine, it's over. lives have been lost. sanctions and actions need to happen now. senator portman: rob portman from ohio. we just got back last night from a congressional delegation trip to ukraine. it was bipartisan, led by senator shaheen and myself, senator wicker, senator kramer, we're part of that congressional delegation. this morning, we were able to attend a secured briefing by the president and his team. let me echo some of the concerns that have been raised by my
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colleagues. we need to stand strong and unified in letting vladimir putin and russia know should there be another physical invasion of ukraine, that the consequences will be devastating for russia. both in terms of sanctions, we talked about nord stream 2 earlier. it is a bad idea. it's an even worse idea now that russia has mobilized this massive unwarranted force along the border of ukraine. but the other sanctions that must be discussed publicly and made clear would go much further than just sanctioning nord stream 2 which, of course, has to happen. we also need to let russia know that we are going to provide additional military dive lethal methods to ukraine. already we're doing that. i was pleased to see, as we left ukraine yesterday, the c-17
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landed. it was from the u.k. one of our strong allies. and it had within it anti-tank weapons that ukraine badly needs to be able to respond, should russia and vladimir putin make a terrible mistake. but we need to continue that. should there be an additional invasion, we need to let the world know there will be substantially more of those kinds of military weapons and assistance provided to ukraine, as well as additional buildup with nato forces and eastern european countries and a commitment, an ironclad commitment that the free world, not just nato and the united states, but the free world will stand strong. that is the kind of deterrence that's needed right now to avoid what would be a terrible consequence for ukraine but also destabilizing europe and sending a signal that somehow, after the
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first territorial incursion since world war 24r, that the countries -- ii, that the countries of the free world will not stand together strongly against what russia is doing. i believe what we saw in our codel, what we heard this morning, was a very strong message, a message of unity. we need to be sure our actions back up our words. senator wicker. senator wicker: thank you, senator portman. i think if we all try to limit our remarks, it will give us a chance to be heard. i want to echo what senator portman said and what senator resch said. this group, we're partisan republicans. but the delegation that we sent on the 48-hour trip to kiev this weekend was bipartisan. four democrats, three republicans, and our message was the strong message that senator resch just spoke to the rest of the world. we are united in our opposition
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to what vladimir putin and russia are about to do and we want to stand strong in a united way as a country. i think that was the message coming out of the classified meeting we had with the president. and i hope that comes to fruition. let me say this about vladimir putin. the russian people are led by someone who is nostalgic about the czarist period of russia. president reagan correctly called the ussr an evil empire. vladimir putin is nostalgic for a return to the evil empire, and that is why he's done what he's done. and yes, he poisons political opponents. he assassinates former members of the administration who oppose him publicly. he has invaded georgia. he's invaded ukraine. and as of yet, no one has given
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vladimir putin a bloody nose for any of this. i think the alliance, our friends in nato, and a bipartisan majority are prepared to assist ukraine in making sure that if it happens this time, vladimir putin will get a bloody nose. this is 40 million people who remember how it used to be not to be free and to be under the thumb of soviet russia. they will fight, and it gladdened my heart, as senator portman said, to see that cargo plane from the united kingdom offloading anti-tank weapons. we need to be an integral part of doing more than has already been announced. and we need to make sure that if vladimir putin takes this step and makes this mistake for his
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countrymen and this mistake against his neighbors that it will be a mistake that he will long regret and long remember. >> nor kramer -- senator kramer. senator kramer: well, thank you. in the spirit of unity, let me agree with all of my colleagues to this point. and just reiterate how strong the commitment is and while we certainly have some honest policy disagreements, particularly with regard to the sanctions, the nord stream 2 sanctions and the sequence, that should not be mistake by vladimir putin or russia as disunity. the trip was fast but intense. this morning's briefing with the president was informative and i think constructive. and i think at this point the message is loud and clear. the united states stands as one in unity with the freedom-loving
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people of ukraine and never wants a return to what is, of course, vladimir putin's dream of reuniting ukraine as part of the russian empire. i think that said, it's best we move on. i think senator fischer is next. senator fischer: thank you. i agree with my colleagues. i think senator cramer did an excellent job of laying this out. that even though you only see republicans up here, there is bipartisan support. and having president putin understand that we are firm in our resolve. i thank my colleagues for meeting with the administration as well. obviously, we all know that president putin is putting up false flags. he has 100,000 or more people at the border, troops at the border. he's been saying that nato is
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there to envelope ukraine. it is seen by him as a threat to his country. recently, we had one of our strongest allies step forward and on of floor of his parliament and in an op-ed, the defense secretary, ben wallace, made excellent points to combat that misinformation that president putin is trying to get out there and get in the press to justify some future action that he may take. first of all, as secretary wallace has said, nato is, to its core, defensive in nature. at the heart of the organization is article 5 which owe blienls all members -- obliges all
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members to come to the aid. it's nato's cornerstone. now, ukraine is not a member of nato. and nato is not out there trying to recruit ukraine. and there is absolutely no proof out there that the objective is for nato to encircle the russian federation. only five of the 30 allies that neighbor russia with just 1/16 of its borders are budded by nato -- butted by nato, if it is 6% of your border being blocked, that's pretty amazing. so that knocks down another president putin's points. last, as the secretary says, the
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kremlin attempts to encroach upon its territory but in reality the growth in alliance membership is the natural response of those states to its own malign activities and threats. this would be a decision, as it should be by the people of ukraine. our member here is to be able to make the point to president putin that the road he seems to be on infringes upon that sovereignty of that country and upon the ukrainian people. >> well, i am here and i believe my colleagues are here today because we, like every american, are cheering for our commander in chief to be successful, to help protect our values and interests as americans.
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and one of the things that's really important that we do, that we incentivize and we encourage this president to be res. lult as we deal --ress lult as -- resolute as we deal with the current situation. this could be a fulcrum moment. we have 100,000 troops that the russians have deployed on the border with ukraine. senator young: and if a message is not sent to vladimir putin, the strongest possible message that every encroachment he makes will be met with incredible pain, in order to dissuade his encroachments, then this sends -- this sends a message to not only our allies in the trans-atlantic partnership that we have, but also it sends a message to other thugs and auto
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accurates -- autocrats around the world who has other pieces in the territory. president putin has demonstrated in crimea, in eastern ukraine, in georgia that he has a voracious and massive appetite for territory, but he's not the only one. if the united states does not stand firm at this moment in time in this place and in this situation, then we could see encroachments that will impact our commerce, our way of life in the future. the u.s. still remains the world leader, the protector of our international system. we do not have a self-regulating order. we must make order. this administration must understand that we continue that leadership. i encourage them to do so. that's been undermined in recent days in our failure as a country
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to reimpose economic sanctions on putin's nord stream 2 pipeline. but we have an opportunity here to restore our credibility, to restore deterrence, not just in ukraine, but also in so many other areas of the world. and i encourage this president and this administration to stand firm. >> today, more than 100,000 troops are encircle ukraine, in the black sea. in crimea. senator cotton: they could invade crimea in a moment's notice, perhaps waiting for nothing more than favorable weather conditions. it's the result of a year of joe biden's impotence and incompetence towards russia in particular and foreign policy in general. one of president biden's first actions in public office last january was to grant vladimir putin, his number one priority,
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which is a no strings attached extension of a one-sided nuclear arms treaty. and then granting him his second priority, letting him complete the nor stream 2 pipeline. and then the pipeline hack. and then he's concluded the time is right to achieve this long-held goal. it has to be said many of our allies have been standing with ukraine and one that's not and that's the nation of germany. germany continues to insist that nord stream needs to go forward. they refuse to be specific about the kinds of sanctions and penalties vladimir putin should face if he invades russia. there are reports that germany did not allow that airport transporting defensive missiles to cross german airspace. the time is late but the only, the only way we could possibly deter vladimir putin from
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invading ukraine is to take action now, like providing ukraine with more anti-tank missiles and with anti-aircraft weapons, defensive weapons that would not be used offensively. it would be only be used if russia chooses to invade. by being very specific about the kinds of consequences russia will face should it invade. sanctions like being cut off from the international banking system and oligarchs facing sanctions themselves and visa bans in western europe. that may not be enough but that is the only thing at this moment that could perhaps change vladimir putin's cost-benefit analysis. right now he believes the benefits of invading ukraine will farther outweigh the costs. we have to change that. >> senator scott. >> senator scott: joe biden's act of being mr. nice guy,
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appeasing adversaries has got to end. he needs to act in the best interest of our citizens and our allies. he needs to get a backbone. he needs to quit appeasing putin. it hasn't worked. step one, he's got to implement sanctions to stop nord stream 2. he needs to make sure the ukrainians can defend themselves. if he doesn't, he's going to -- we're going to watch putin do the wrong thing and we're going to watch other dictators and thugs around the world do the wrong thing. hopefully this president will step up and say being mr. nice guy and appeasing is not right and he will change. senator cornyn: historically, wars are easy to start, and they are hard to finish. that's why this threat of sanctions after the fact is not
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alone enough to deter vladimir putin and to prevent him from invading -- further invading ukraine. neither are the promises of financial assistance to the ukrainians at some undetermined position or time in the future, sufficient to deter putin. and make no mistake about it, our goal in a bipartisan basis should be to stop putin and to make him think twice about invading ukraine. one of the things that we should do is to consider whether we ought to, as we did in world war ii, make the united states once again the arsenal of democracy and provide, along with our allies, lethal weapons with which to deter and defeat vladimir putin's invasion. there's no question that weakness or perception of weakness is a prove vagus to -- provocation to authoritarian
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figures like vladimir putin or president xi and you can bet your bottom dollar that president xi is watching what's happening in ukraine and calculating what the united states' response might be if they were to invade taiwan. so our goal ought to be to stop vladimir putin, not to try to punish him after the fact, after he's already initiated a war, but to stop him and deter him, letting him know the democracies around the world will join together and providing the ukrainians everything they need with which to defeat the russian invasion and to restore their democracy. senator rounds: i have the opportunity to serve on both the armed services committee and foreign relations committee. let me begin by just simply saying this group of united states senators here stand in unison when we talk about our foreign policy.
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just to summarize -- number one, we support what secretary blinken said today about the fact that we stand solidly with our friends, the citizens of ukraine. we welcomed his strong comments this morning. second of all, when president biden announced in february that he would not enforce sanctions on nord stream 2, it was met by mr. putin, immediately beginning in march, to amass soldiers and supplies on the ukrainian border. not acceptable. we strongly recommend that as a response to that, that sanctions be imposed and that there should be a cost to mr. putin and his activities in and around ukraine. furthermore, it is critical -- and you've heard this from almost all of us -- it's critical we provide defensive capabilities to our allies in
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ukraine as they courageously defend their country against the threat of a russian invasion. and finally, we're not looking for war. we want the diplomatic activity to continue, and as a body, we support a diplomatic response and a final outcome without bloodshed. diplomacy is critical. but mr. putin has to understand that he cannot, he simply cannot use aggression to reshape europe. thank you. [inaudible] reporter: so what is your [inaudible]
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>> well, i said earlier, nord stream 2 pipeline was a bad idea, long before the provocative buildup of troops around the border. it gives russians a tremendous weapon. it's an energy weapon. senator portman: it makes europe dependent on russia. we've seen what happens to ukraine, to moldova, more recently. russia uses it as a political weapon. i disagree with you, intoesing the -- imposing the right kind of sanctions could be circumvented. i believe the new german
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government is relooking at this. particularly the green party, as part of the coalition, but also the socialist democrats. what i hope all of us agree with, senator cotton spoke to this, we want germany to step up and ensure we do not see this pipeline be completed. it not only creates this dependency by europe on russia, it also hurts ukraine in a very fundamental way. the existing pipeline goes through ukraine. it provides much of the natural gas. ukraine gets fees from that. more importantly, in a way it's an insurance policy. because this is something russia cares about. and then finally, of course, it provides natural gas to the people of ukraine. so this is a bad idea. it's become an even worse idea. and we believe that sanctions are appropriate. we also believe that germany needs to step forward, understanding that ukraine is a sovereign, independent country whose territorial integrity is
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being threatened. they are part of greater europe. and i agree with my colleagues that it doesn't end here if we do not take strong action to deter russia from making a terrible mistake. >> first of all, i disagree with your premise it can't be stopped. it can be stopped. and will be stopped if the administration takes the action that it should take and should have taken some time ago. let's not get the nord stream 2 thing lost in the overall objective here and that is to see that the invasion does not take place. there's a couple other things we urged the administration to do. they are taking action in that regard. i think delinquently but they are. senator risch: i think we have defensive measures that are weaponry that is being -- that is headed for ukraine as we speak. in addition to that, a couple of our allies asked for relief from their licenses so they can provide materiel. i understand that's being done and bless the u.k. for stepping
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up and doing what they're doing. [inaudible] >> well, there are members of both parties discussing that in the relevant committees. i think passing something is better than passing nothing. i think passing menendez instead of rubio is not good as rubio. that said, if we can get the two parties together and we ought to work on it hard and now and fast and i think senator cotton listed a number of them,
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including swift, cutting off swift, access to the global electronic payment system. senator cramer: it has to be broad based. i think we can strengthen some parts of it more we'd like, agree to some of the things that democrats want. but at the end of the day, i think we need to get to a package that's decisive and that is enough to be a deterrent to action. and, again, getting back to nord stream 2, it never should have been built. it has handed vladimir putin leverage he never should have had. that said -- that said, it's now a source of revenue for vladimir putin that if it is stopped can still hurt. we need to be committed to that. we need germany to say publicly that they're committed to that. reporter: [inaudible]
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>> we're talking about ukraine here. we'll take that up. reporter: [inaudible] >> ukrainians were very pleased that president biden chose to use his authority to provide additional funding for defensive lethal weapons. senator portman: as you can imagine, they talked about anti-tank and anti-aircraft weaponry and it should be noted the united states congress acted in the national defense authorization bill, which all these gentlemen supported, to increase funding for military aid as well. so you have both the president's ability to transfer funds, which he's done recently, and that's
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resulted in additional weaponry. but also in the national defense authorization bill and in our appropriation bill, you'll see an increase in funding for military assistance. the point being made this morning by my colleagues, which i agree with, we need to do even more. you know, we are in a position of being able to help ukraine defend itself. i will say, too, that whether it's denmark, whether it's the u.k. or other countries in eastern europe, including bulgaria, the ballotics, a number of countries are stepping up providing munition, that's encouraging. we need to be sure we're unified as a free world. reporter: [inaudible] >> we had an increase in $50 million in the ndaa and we'd like to see even more. to be honest, if we had a chance to offer amendments to the ndaa, which was not possible, i think
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we all would have voted for them and would have bipartisan support for even more. and so my hope is in the appropriations process we can do even more. reporter: [inaudible] >> well, i don't think there's much confusion about where the cyberattacks against ukraine is coming from. senator cotton: attribution is not difficult. the president doesn't appear he wants to follow through on the sanctions. he has more than enough power to take the steps we've outlined here, whether it's sanctioning russia or the cyberattackers, providing not just anti-tank but anti-aircraft weaponry.
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and threatening sanctions that america can only lead on. he has more than enough power to do those things right now. the problem is he's been waiting for too long and we are now at the precipice of a potential invasion of russia. it may not be too late to act. that's why he needs to act right now. >> if i could as well, i served as both chairman of the subcommittee on cybersecurity and now as ranking member. several years ago we incorporated for the administration the implementation of nspm-13, national security policy memorandum 13 under the trump administration. it's still in effect today. it's a classified document but lays out very clearly that we have provided the opportunity for cyber operations in a nonwar zone. senator rounds: and the purpose for that is to be able to send a message to people like mr. putin that if he's going to engage in cyber operations that are detrimental to other countries, he can expect retaliation.
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and we have that capability today and it is critical that president biden retain that and utilize it when necessary to respond to cyber operations. mr. putin has the ability right now to damage transportation systems, utility systems, all sorts of items you would normally rely on, financial payment systems and so forth, within ukraine. he has shown a propensity to use cyber operations prior to his engagements on a physical level in order to soften things up. clearly, he is looking at that at this time in ukraine. he's used it elsewhere. we followed what he's done. it is consistent with his operations in other areas of the world. and certainly, mr. biden, president biden, has the opportunity and resources to respond accordingly with cyber operations.
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reporter: [inaudible] >> i'd like to hear from senator risch on this because he has his own legislation. what we want to do is have a bipartisan bill that expresses this strong unified position in our congress. senator portman: where we took the same message to the people of ukraine and to the russian government saying that we are going to impose devastating sanctions should this occur and we are going to provide additional military assistance to ukraine and we are going to help with regard to other countries in the region to provide for their defense. and all of this, you know, is something we agree with on a bipartisan basis.
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i think the legislation you're talking to was in response to the nord stream 2 issue. obviously, we have differences on that. that's not going to keep up from coming up with a strong bipartisan bill that makes it clear that we stand with the freedom-loving people of ukraine. reporter: [inaudible] >> there are discussions ongoing. reporter: [inaudible] >> i thought it was a constructive discussion. i don't think we surprised the president or mr. sullivan or anybody in the administration with what we said. and quite honestly, we listened as much as we spoke. senator cramer: for example, in the area of sanctions, which is what we're discussing, rob is exactly right. we want to have a strong bipartisan sanctions package.
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and melding the existing legislation together, strengthening it from our standpoint, i think you could have an overwhelming vote. if they choose to have a wider down sanctions package, i don't know how strong a vote it will be. i want a strong vote because that expresses the unity. enough has been done for us to punch back a little bit. and right now, i think vladimir putin is saying, you know, thank you, mr. president, but words are cheap. and it's time to demonstrate some action. yes, we're working on some things together. and the president was instructive. the president raises an important point, to be fair. sanctions don't just -- they're not a bilateral or unilateral thing. even if it's a unilateral thing, it splashes over. it has it with our allies and exporters. we have to be thoughtful about it. we have to be committed to it.
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we have to be clear about it. but, yeah, he listened attentively. he shared a lot as well. one of the challenges that's come up many times, he has the additional burden of keeping nato together. and right now, you know, there's at least one outlier. they are not all united at the same level of intensity. and so we want to be as united, both as the united states of america and united states congress and with our nato allies and it's not quite as simple as, you know, a unilateral group of sanctions. >> can i make one other point on the legislation? under the leadership of senator risch and senator menendez, we've already passed out of committee the ukraine security partnership act. that's in addition to what we're talking about now. senator portman: we would be able to fold that in to new legislation.
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that includes among other things additional capability to help ukraine with regard to cyberattacks, for example, something we saw occur last week. so that legislation has already been reported out of committee. it hasn't been voted on the floor yet. there is strong bipartisan support for helping ukraine. there's a lot of legislative activity that i think could be brought together. reporter: [inaudible] >> is your question is whether or not this is a provocative act to cause the russians move? listen, they need to set that
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aside. we don't need to be calculating what's going to provoke the russians. we know where we stand, where we want to go. the russians know where they stand and where they want to go. it's way past time to be dithering over whether something that will upset putin or not. that's off the table. >> the escalation of all this has come from one side, the peace loving, freedom-loving ukrainians, nato, the united states of america, none much us have escalated this situation. and every attempt to de-escalate it with diplomatic attempts, i which have been many -- several which in the last week or two, have clearly not deterred vladimir putin. senator cramer: so the time for that discussion is long passed. >> thank you. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2022] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy.
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visit] through june
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2022 to issue a ruling. >> justice sotomayor is participating this morning. we will hear argument first in case 2112 fec v. ted cruze for senate. mr. stewart. >> mr. chief justice, and may it please the port -- court. it should hold the statutory loan repayment limit is constitutional. of wiley's not standing for two reasons. although tha


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