March 02, 2022

Risch on Ukraine: Time is Short, We Must Act Now

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Jim Risch (R-Idaho), ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today led his Republican colleagues in a press conference to discuss Russia’s war against Ukraine and efforts to support the Ukrainian people and punish Putin.

Watch Senator Risch’s full opening remarks on YouTube here.

Download Senator Risch’s opening remarks on Google Drive here. 

Watch Senator Risch’s Q&A on YouTube here.

Download Senator Risch’s Q&A on Google Drive here. 

On the importance of taking immediate action:

“At this perilous time, we must do all we possibly can to preserve the lives of Ukrainians that are perishing every day – women, children, civilians. I applaud the sanctions the president has put in place – these are indeed good steps. But the sanctions have not deterred Putin’s military. And, we believe we must do more.”

“Putin is showing he will not be deterred without more action by the West. It is time we drop the hammer and completely shut down the economy in Russia and do more to assist the Ukrainian defenses.”

On Republicans and Democrats being united on Ukraine:

“Let me be clear here, when it comes to the bottom line, when it comes to the objective of what we are trying to do here, Republicans and Democrats are united. We do have differences on how to execute. We do have differences on the details of what it is going to take to get this done. But, we’re all untied to accomplish the bottom line here.”

“What we are doing here is trying to urge the administration and our Democrat colleagues to do more as we have suggested.”

On what action Congress should take:

“We must sanction all of Russia’s banks, appropriate industries, and include secondary sanctions.” 

“With Nord Stream 2 shut down, we now must help end Europe’s dependence on Russian oil and gas for good. The president should rescind his executive order from last year that shut down oil and gas production in the United States to a large degree, and then, we can help Europe.”       

“We support the weapons and other assistance that the president has provided to the Ukrainian military. And, I have immediately, as ranking member of Foreign Relations Committee, signed off on every request to send weapons immediately when it was presented.” 

“The NYET Act, that Republicans supported, contains a Resistance Fund to help Ukrainians counter Russian influence and provided other military assistance the Ukrainians may need. My colleagues on the other side have opposed this Fund all along. The Ukrainians are demonstrating why such a fund is needed.”

On providing lethal aid to Ukraine:

“It is not that difficult to get lethal aid to them. We’ve been pouring lethal aid in there for a considerable period of time. What I would suggest to the president we do is to actually take the lethal aid into Ukraine. Right now they’re taking it into Poland, Ukraine has got to come get it and truck it in. As everybody here agrees, we do not want a confrontation directly with the Russians. But the western part of that country is Russia-free right now, and there is precedent for this.

“When the Russians in 2008 went into Georgia, George W. Bush took supplies, lethal aid, into Georgia. And how did he do it? He didn’t leave it on the doorstep. He flew it into Georgia. There’s no reason why the administration can’t be doing that. I’d urge them to do that. Obviously, you need to be risk-adverse to a degree, but delivering to Lviv or somewhere else that’s in the western part can be done easily.”

“Because of what we’re seeing coming in to the capital, we need a huge surge of these weapons. We need Javelin missiles. And everybody talks about a no-fly-zone – the Ukrainians can make a no-fly-zone by us sending them enough Stinger missiles. They can make their own no-fly-zone over Ukraine.”

These remarks have been lightly edited for clarity. A transcript of Risch’s full remarks are below:

“Well thank you everybody. I want to thank you for coming today, and I want to thank my colleagues for being here today. When everybody shows up, we’re going to have a very diverse group of people from across the Republican conference and a great representation of Republican leadership in support of the Ukrainian people.

“At this perilous time, we must do all we possibly can to preserve the lives of Ukrainians that are perishing every day – women, children, civilians. I applaud the sanctions the president has put in place – these are indeed good steps. But the sanctions have not deterred Putin’s military. And, we believe we must do more.

“We must sanction all of Russia’s banks, appropriate industries, and include secondary sanctions. 

“With Nord Stream 2 shut down, we now must help end Europe’s dependence on Russian oil and gas for good. The president should rescind his executive order from last year that shut down oil and gas production in the United States to a large degree, and then, we can help Europe.       

“We support the weapons and other assistance that the president has provided to the Ukrainian military. And, I have immediately, as ranking member of Foreign Relations Committee, signed off on every request to send weapons immediately when it was presented. 

“There is a 40-mile convoy of Russian tanks stalled outside of Kyiv. They have not been destroyed because we have not supplied enough weapons to Ukraine. Again, we must do more.

“Biden’s Emergency Supplemental request seeks to raise the cap for additional weapons to $350 million. My Democratic colleagues here have opposed raising this cap. Indeed we support the $350 million, plus more, really.

“The NYET Act, that Republicans supported, contains a Resistance Fund to help Ukrainians counter Russian influence and provided other military assistance the Ukrainians may need. My colleagues on the other side have opposed this Fund all along. The Ukrainians are demonstrating why such a fund is needed.

“Putin is showing he will not be deterred without more action by the West. It is time we drop the hammer and completely shut down the economy in Russia and do more to assist the Ukrainian defenses.

“The other side has complained that Republicans are being partisan. That could not be further from the truth. Let me be clear here, when it comes to the bottom line, when it comes to the objective of what we are trying to do here, Republicans and Democrats are united. We do have differences on how to execute. We do have differences on the details of what it is going to take to get this done. But, we’re all untied to accomplish the bottom line here.

“What we are doing here is trying to urge the administration and our Democrat colleagues to do more as we have suggested.

“The president has done the right thing on sanctions so far, but we need to do more. If the current sanctions were enough, that 40-mile convoy of Russian tanks wouldn’t be headed to Kyiv as it is now.

“Time is short. We need to act now with more assistance.”

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“It is not that difficult to get lethal aid to them. We’ve been pouring lethal aid in there for a considerable period of time. What I would suggest to the president we do is to actually take the lethal aid into Ukraine. Right now they’re taking it into Poland, Ukraine has got to come get it and truck it in. As everybody here agrees, we do not want a confrontation directly with the Russians. But the western part of that country is Russia-free right now, and there is precedent for this.

“When the Russians in 2008 went into Georgia, George W. Bush took supplies, lethal aid, into Georgia. And how did he do it? He didn’t leave it on the doorstep. He flew it into Georgia. There’s no reason why the administration can’t be doing that. I’d urge them to do that. Obviously, you need to be risk-adverse to a degree, but delivering to Lviv or somewhere else that’s in the western part can be done easily.”

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“At this moment, there is plenty of ability to deliver lethal aid. There’s still money there that the administration is using. It certainly isn’t the stoppage by any stretch of the imagination. But because of what we’re seeing coming in to the capital, we need a huge surge of these weapons. We need Javelin missiles. And everybody talks about a no-fly-zone – the Ukrainians can make a no-fly-zone by us sending them enough Stinger missiles. They can make their own no-fly-zone over Ukraine.”

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