GOP lawmakers warn Blinken of potential ‘disastrous consequences’ of Russia policies

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Top House Republican lawmakers blasted the Biden administration’s foreign policy strategy toward Russia on Tuesday, arguing a failure to check aggression against Ukraine would do permanent damage to the United States’ international standing.

In a letter to Secretary of State Tony Blinken, the lawmakers led by House Foreign Affairs Committee Ranking Member Rep. Michael McCaul said the Biden administration’s approach was already having “dangerous consequences” for Ukraine. The Republicans pointed to a massive buildup of Russian troops along a shared border with Ukraine, which has stoked fears of looming military conflict.

“To deter an expanded Russian military intervention in Ukraine, this Administration will need to project strength,” the lawmakers wrote. “Concerningly, however, this Administration has consistently failed to back up its strong rhetoric condemning Putin’s aggression and malign activity with equally strong action.”

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Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a meeting with high level officers and heads of defense industry enterprises in the Bocharov Ruchei residence in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russia, Monday, Nov. 1, 2021. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a meeting with high level officers and heads of defense industry enterprises in the Bocharov Ruchei residence in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russia, Monday, Nov. 1, 2021.  (Evgeniy Paulin, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

The Republicans argue that Blinken and other top Biden administration officials have failed to project sufficient strength to deter acts of Russian aggression. The lawmakers cite Biden’s decision to re-enter a nuclear arms treaty with Russia without updated terms, a response to Russia-linked ransomware attacks the GOP deems inadequate, and a “deeply disappointing” response to the poisoning of Russian opposition leader Aleksey Navalny.

All Republican Members of the Subcommittee on Europe, Energy, the Environment, and Cyber joined McCall in signing the letter to Blinken. Signatories included Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick, Adam Kinzinger, Brian Mast, Claudia Tenney, and Nicole Malliotakis, among others.

The lawmakers urged Blinken to take several immediate steps toward deterring Russia, including increased military support for Ukraine, new sanctions on key Russian entities, a condemnation of Russia’s “efforts to weaponize energy” amid a global fuel shortage, and an enhanced military posture in the Black Sea.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks during a photo opportunity with Romanian Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu at the State Department, Monday, Nov. 8, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, Pool).

Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks during a photo opportunity with Romanian Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu at the State Department, Monday, Nov. 8, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, Pool).

The Republicans also called for “a clear path to NATO membership” for Ukraine and Georgia.

“The United States must do more to demonstrate its unequivocal support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty,” the letter said. “The alternative, we fear, is that continued weakness from this Administration will only invite more brazen Russian aggression. With approximately 90,000 Russian troops and a significant amount of Russian military equipment currently sitting on Ukraine’s border, failing to project strength now would have disastrous consequences.”

President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the debt ceiling during an event in the State Dining Room of the White House, Monday, Oct. 4, 2021, in Washington. 

President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the debt ceiling during an event in the State Dining Room of the White House, Monday, Oct. 4, 2021, in Washington.  (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

“In the aftermath of the disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan, failing to stand firmly with our strategic partner Ukraine would do irrevocable damage to America’s ability to deter our adversaries as well as to the perception of the United States as a credible and trustworthy ally on the world’s stage,” the Republicans added.

Last week, Blinken noted that the Biden administration was aware of “reports of unusual Russian military activity near Ukraine.” He added the administration was “monitoring the region very ly” and the U.S. commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty is “ironclad.”


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