House GOP leaders say Biden’s policies enabled Russia’s invasion of Ukraine


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House GOP leaders on Tuesday took President Biden to task for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, arguing that the president’s failed policies have encouraged Vladimir Putin to take more aggressive action.

The statement by House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy and others came a day after Russian troops arrived in rebel-held areas in eastern Ukraine after Putin said he recognized the zone independence. GOP leaders have called the new invasion of Ukraine “reprehensible.”

“Unfortunately, President Biden always chose appeasement and his tough talk on Russia was never followed by strong action,” the GOP leaders said.

“Lethal aid was slow, anti-aircraft and anti-ship capabilities were never directly provided, pre-invasion sanctions commensurate with the aggression Putin had already committed were never imposed, and sanctions against Nord Stream 2 have been lifted.”

A tank rolls down a street after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the deployment of Russian troops to two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine following recognition of their independence, in the separatist-controlled city of Donetsk, in Ukraine, February 22, 2022.
(REUTERS/Alexander Ermoshenko)

The Nord Stream 2 undersea gas pipeline connects Russian gas directly to Europe via Germany and is complete but not yet operational. It has become a major target as Western governments try to leverage Russia to deter further military action against its neighbors.

GOP leaders have said the United States and its allies must make Putin’s regime “pay for this aggression.” They called on President Biden to take a more aggressive approach to curbing Putin’s ambitions.

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“[W]We must permanently end Nord Stream 2, implement secondary sanctions against Russian financial institutions, and impose crippling sanctions on industries that the Russian military relies on to wage war,” the GOP leaders said. “Furthermore, as House Republicans have been saying for the past year, President Biden must finally advance US energy development and help the United States become Europe’s energy partner of choice.”

A Ukrainian soldier walks past houses in the village of Novoluhanske, Luhansk region, Ukraine, Saturday, February 19, 2022.

A Ukrainian soldier walks past houses in the village of Novoluhanske, Luhansk region, Ukraine, Saturday, February 19, 2022.
(AP Photo/Oleksandr Ratushniak)

The letter was signed by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik, House Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Mike Turner and Representatives Michael McCaul of Texas and Mike Rogers of Alabama.

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Later Tuesday, President Biden ordered heavy US sanctions against Russian banks and oligarchs. Speaking from the White House, Biden accused Putin of grossly violating international law and promised more sanctions would be forthcoming if Putin went further.

“None of us will be fooled” by Putin’s claims about Ukraine, the US president said.

Biden said he was also moving additional US troops to the Baltic states on NATO’s eastern flank on the border with Russia. The Estonian Prime Minister and the Latvian and Lithuanian Presidents on Friday made a direct appeal to Vice President Kamala Harris for the United States to strengthen its presence in the Baltic countries.

President Biden speaks on Ukraine in the East Room of the White House, Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2022, in Washington.

President Biden speaks on Ukraine in the East Room of the White House, Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2022, in Washington.
(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Biden said the United States would impose a “total lockdown” on two major Russian financial institutions and “comprehensive sanctions” on Russian debt.

“That means we’ve cut off the Russian government from Western finance,” Biden said. “He can no longer raise money from the West, nor can he trade his new debt in our markets or in European markets.”

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Biden effectively joined the 27 members of the European Union who unanimously agreed on Tuesday to impose their own initial round of sanctions targeting Russian officials for their actions in Ukraine.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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