UPDATED 10:20 AM PT – Wednesday, March 2, 2022
Members of the Senate met with the Ukrainian ambassador to the U.S. to discuss supplemental funding that could be given to the European country. On Monday, senators from both parties discussed options with Oksana Markarova in regards to furthering U.S. involvement in the Ukraine-Russia conflict.
The meeting came while Congress works on providing arms ammunition and direct funding to the Ukrainian government as they continue to push back an invading Russian forces. Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) said that he doesn’t believe Russian President Vladimir Putin can win the war as even if he’s victorious in Ukraine, he will have spent any goodwill from NATO and any other civilized country.
“Vladimir Putin will lose this battle, he will lose this war,” stated the Virginia lawmaker. “He will be a pariah amongst not only NATO and America, but among all civilized nations around the world. That will be his legacy.”
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) concurred with Warner’s characterization and went even further, saying he doesn’t believe the Ukrainian people would accept a puppet government run by Putin.
“I don’t know how Putin wins one way or the other,” said the Florida Republican. “Even if he crushes the military, he can’t possibly…that country will never accept him or his puppet government that he leaves behind as their rightful leaders.”
Many of the senators, including Democrats, are also acknowledging that American energy independence is a national security issue more than anything. They pointed out that the U.S. buys over half a million barrels of oil everyday from Putin’s Russia. The senators believe that the time to drill in the U.S. is now, not only to keep U.S. energy prices down, but to help Europeans who will suffer after being cut off from Russian gas.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) noted that the ambassador is only asking for two things: a ban on Russian gas imports and further U.S. involvement through weapons sales as well as economic aid.
“The one thing we’re not doing that would affect him the most is sanction the oil and gas sector of Russian economy,” explained the South Carolina lawmaker. “The Ukrainian ambassador was begging for two things: go after Putin’s oil and gas industry and continue to supply us with weapons and economic assistance.”
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) also believes that Putin’s aggression needs to be countered by reversing course on energy. He said it’s time for the U.S. to step up to the plate with energy production and end the ban on new drilling at home.
“We’re buying over 600,000 barrels a day of crude from Russia,” he stated. “We’ve been doing this for quite some time. And I just think that basically for us to set the example and ask the rest of the world to step up to the plate, we have to step up to the plate. That means basically reversing some of the decisions have been made on no leasing, not drilling and basically cutting back. We need energy independence more now than ever before.”
The senators explained they are finishing the final details of legislation to provide more aid to the Ukrainians with committee chair Chris Coons (D-Del.), while noting the details are in the scale of the package.
As they try to work out a deal, Putin continues his offensive against Ukraine. The Russian president was reportedly hoping to take the country without much resistance, but is now bogged down in increasingly violent offensive campaigns to take outlying areas as he threatens to cutoff Kiev from supplies in an attempt at a final capitulation.