WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Jim Risch (R-Idaho), ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today joined Judy Woodruff on PBS NewsHour to discuss Russia's military escalation towards Ukraine and his new legislation, the NYET Act , which is intended to deter Russian aggression.
To watch the full interview on YouTube, click here.
On whether the Russians are doing what they’re saying:
“The Russians lie. I don’t know how they can look in the camera and tell the world they have no intention of invading. They have amassed the largest invasion force that the world has seen in decades. The world doesn’t believe it.”
“Nobody wants war, everybody would like to see it avoided… I think if [the Russians] do go into Ukraine, the best day they’re going to have is the first day. After that, it’s going to turn into a resistance movement. [The Ukrainians] have received enough arms from us and other allies in Europe to make this a very, very troublesome venture.”
On whether there’s diplomatic progress with Russia:
“I don’t know what there is to negotiate. What Vladimir Putin put on the table were absolute nonstarters for us and all 29 of our NATO allies. He wanted to say who’s going to get into NATO and who doesn’t. Our charter is very clear that we’re open to anybody who wants to come in, and we support any country that wants to come in if they meet the criteria.”
On his NYET Act and bipartisan negotiations:
“There were a lot of portions that were negotiated back and forth. What it really came down to, I think, was just a good faith disagreement on how strong the sanctions should be. My bill specifically states there will be secondary sanctions placed on Russian banks. That brings the Russian economy to a halt. Period… It would be extremely painful and debilitating to Russia.”
“We negotiated in good faith, I think Bob was negotiating in good faith. I was. He had previously introduced the Democrat position. We were unable to come to an agreement, as I’ve described previously, so I introduced [the Republican] position.”
“If Moscow is listening in, and I suspect they may be, this is not a Republican-Democrat fight. This problem is an American problem and if there is an invasion, there will be sanctions as described by the president and described by my bill with secondary sanctions. Moscow should understand that.”
These remarks have been lightly edited for clarity. To download the full interview on Google Drive, click here .