February 17, 2022

Chairman Menendez on MSNBC: “It seems that Vladimir Putin is headed towards conflict instead of diplomacy”

WASHINGTONU.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today joined José Díaz-Balart on MSNBC to discuss U.S. efforts to stand with Ukraine as the Kremlin’s threat of invasion continues to grow as well as other news of the day:

On latest developments regarding Ukraine-Russia crisis: 

“From all accounts, it seems that Vladimir Putin is headed towards conflict instead of diplomacy. It seems not only has he not removed troops from the Ukrainian border, but added several thousand troops to it. He's built a bridge over one of the rivers that is abutting Ukraine. In addition to all of that, it seems his troops are being put into attack positions. So what is happening in the eastern part of Ukraine appears to be another false flag operation where Russian troops … ultimately create an attack against Ukrainians to draw Ukrainians into a conflict and then claim Russia has to respond to it,” Chairman Menendez said. “We've seen this picture several times. This is Putin 101, and unfortunately, I'm getting more and more concerned that the window for diplomacy is being shut by Putin and his moving forward would be a tragic mistake for the Ukrainians but also a tragic mistake for Russia.”

 

On congressional and international efforts to deter a Russian re-invasion of Ukraine:

“Well, two days ago the Majority and Minority Leader of the Senate, joined by the ten Chairs and Ranking Members of the national security Committees, put out a strong statement of bipartisanship in support of Ukraine's territorial integrity and sovereignty, assistance both lethal and non-lethal, and committed to crushing sanctions against Russia if it invades. Today as we speak, Senators Shaheen and Rob Portman, Democrat and Republican, supported by myself and the [SFRC] Ranking Member, have a Resolution for the broader members of the Senate to also express themselves on this topic. The bottom line is we stand ready to support Ukraine. We have been sending it lethal defensive weapons. The Biden administration has supported it financially with a billion dollar loan guarantee. The administration has coordinated the international community in a way I haven't seen in some time,” Chairman Menendez said. “I think where Putin has miscalculated is in the long-term, with Europe now seeking to diversify its energy resources instead of depending on Russia. NATO now has thousands more troops along the eastern border, which he would have never wanted but has caused because of the threat he's created to Ukraine. NATO is stronger today in terms of a commitment to the alliance, and the U.S.-European alliance, the transatlantic alliance, is stronger today as well. I think everything we've done works against what [Putin] wanted to see.”

 

On the Cuban regime preventing Cuban artist, poet, and activist Anamely Ramos from boarding a flight to Havana, and show trials for human rights protestors:

“This is a continuing reality of the brutality of the Cuban regime. These are Cuban citizens and nationals who ultimately just want to peacefully try to create change in their country, and the response is the heavy-handedness of the state, the use of show trials, the imprisonment of people simply because of their peaceful protests,” Chairman Menendez said. “[The regime] will continue to clamp down and my hope that beyond the United States and the international community stop coddling the regime and demand from it the respect of human rights and democracy that every citizen of the world desires and deserves.”

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