Lankford Warns Russian Aggression an Attempt to Start New USSR
CLICK HERE to watch Lankford’s remarks on YouTube.
CLICK HERE to watch Lankford’s remarks on Rumble.
WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) today warned that Russian aggression on the border with Ukraine and military posturing in general should be taken seriously. He shared his support for helping the Ukrainian people defend themselves amid an escalating situation developing on their border that Russia is trying to pretend is nothing. Lankford has consistently called out President Biden’s failed foreign policy, especially against Russia, as Biden has refused to sanction Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline to Europe, which threatens energy security.
Lankford introduced the Never Yielding Europe’s Territory (NYET) Act to provide the critical support Ukraine needs to defend itself and deter Russian aggression today, while imposing real costs on the Kremlin for its ongoing and potential future aggression against Ukraine. Lankford introduced the Belarus Aggression Accountability Act to deter Belarus from allowing Russia to use its territory to invade Ukraine. Lankford’s bill would sanction Belarus or any country that aids Russia’s ongoing, unprovoked aggression toward the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. Lankford supported legislation to impose US sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, a natural gas pipeline from Russia to Germany running through the Baltic Sea.
In November of 2017, I spent some time in western Ukraine, sitting down to be able to have a meal, be able to talk with a group of Oklahomans in the 45th Infantry of the Oklahoma National Guard. Some had been in Ukraine since January of that year. They were still there in November. The spent the entire year in 2017, that was the Oklahoma National Guard, training the military of the Ukrainians. Why? Because Russians in 2014 had moved into Crimea and had crossed the border into the eastern part of Ukraine in what’s called the Donbas and taken over two different areas that they said were ‘separatist’ that were doing it. They were Russian speakers so they clearly should be under Russian domination. And they moved in.
You know, an entire year that Oklahomans spent it with Ukrainians developing friendships, training them, preparing them for battle against a very large army in the Russians, that they hoped to be able to push the Russians out of the eastern side of their country. But as we sat and visited and talked, they told me about the tenacity of the Ukrainian fighters, their commitment to their families, and their commitment to be able to be independent—to be a separate functioning democracy, to engage with the rest of the world as any sovereign, independent nation would be able to choose to be able to do. That was 2017.
To Oklahomans, this conversation about Ukraine and the Russian surrounding Ukraine on three sides is not theory. Some Oklahomans know the name of Ukrainians that are currently on those front lines. They’ve served along-side of each other. They’ve stayed in contact, calling them friends. If you go into the Ukrainian Embassy today in the United States, you’ll see a picture of some Oklahomans up on the wall because they remember that group of Oklahomans that came to Ukraine to help them prepare for a day they hoped would never come, yet to be able to be ready to push the Russians out of the eastern part of their nation.
But today—literally right now—Ukrainians living on the border, especially in the north, can literally hear the sound of Russian artillery practicing just miles away. They have been able to hear that sound for days and days now, as they do ‘live fire’ exercises just on the other side of the border. They understand that the Russians have amassed well in excess of 100,000 troops, that they’ve gathered troops from Russia from the far east, next to their border with China and had moved them all the way to the west to be able to surround Ukraine on three sides with naval forces and with ground forces. They’re very aware the Russians have moved their special operations. They’ve moved in field hospitals. They’re very aware that they’re doing live training exercises in preparation. They hope that it’s only saber rattling. But they hear the sound of the guns just a few miles away.
It’s interesting to hear the Russian perspective, even within the last 24 hours as Russian diplomats spoke to the BBC just in the last few hours. And they spoke and said they had no intention of any aggressive moves, that they’re a sobering nation and that they can move their forces anywhere they want to be able to move on any in of their land. And if they want to put their forces all right there on the border with Ukraine, that’s their sovereign right to do that. And then they replied back in what must be the great Russian statements of all time, that the West is not reporting that the Ukrainians have also moved 100,000 troops next to the border with Russia. They must think the entire world is delusional, as a Russian diplomat called it ‘myth’ that the Russians intend to do aggression and said they would only move into Ukraine if they were provoked.
Now, mind you, United States intelligence just released publicly just a few days ago a plot that the Russians had created a film, a movie, if I can say it that way, a news reel, that they had staged a Ukrainian attack on Russians, and it laid out actors that looked as if they were dead, had set up all of these Ukrainian implements from war, and different vehicles around, and burned out Russian tanks, so that they could show the world that the Ukrainians actually attacked them first—Except our intelligence actually exposed that plan.
But the Russians are still repeating themselves all over again: they’ll only attack if they’re provoked—as they work to be able to stage a provocation.
People forget in the world, that when the Russians are in Belarus, they’re a half-day drive from Kyiv. But they’re also a half-day drive from where they’re stationed right now, from Warsaw. This is a tenuous time.
This is not a new moment for the Russians to act aggressively towards their neighbors. 2008 Russian invaded the country of Georgia. In 2014, as I mentioned, Russia annexed Crimea and moved in. In 2014, they also moved into the Donbas region. During that time in 2014, Russians, in July of 2014, from the Russian 53rd anti-aircraft brigade launched an anti-aircraft weapon against MH17, a passenger aircraft, flying from Amsterdam to Malaysia, not even coming to Ukraine. They launched an anti-aircraft weapon against that flight, flying over Ukraine, and the Russians murdered 29i people because they flew over an area that they were able to overtake. It’s clear, the Russians in their aggression and Putin in his intent to make sure the whole world pays attention to him, and shows that he’s a powerful man because he can round up the entire world to be able to look at him, when his economy is literally in tatters.
The Russians and their aggression and Putin and his intent to make sure the whole world pays attention to him and show that he’s a powerful man because he can round up the entire world to look at him when his economy is literally in tatters. Russia’s gross domestic product for the entire country is smaller than the State of Texas’ gross domestic product. With his nuclear weapons and his disproportionate allocation to his military and his control of oil and gas in the region he continues to be able to saber rattle and force the world to be able to look at him. The whole while, declaring that he’s sovereign and can move troops anywhere he wants to move, but also, by the way, Ukraine’s not sovereign enough to be able to make a decision about their own defense, demanding that Ukraine can never become a member of NATO. Can I remind the world, NATO is a defensive alliance, a defensive alliance. The NATO alliance exists—and it’s an incredibly successful alliance—the NATO alliance exists to be able to react if they’re attacked. NATO does not cooperate in attacking anyone, NATO is set up to defend each other when attacked.
Now, Ukraine is not a NATO nation., but NATO nations surround Ukraine. And we’re all extremely aware of Putin’s focus on trying to be able to push out and recreate the USSR again. We should pay attention. We should not pretend this won’t affect the world. We’ve seen oil prices around the world already accelerate based on just Putin’s actions right now. We’ve seen what he’s tried to be able to do to manipulate oil prices for the benefit of Russia, but to the detriment of everyone else. We can see that. The issue is what are we going to do about that? How are we going to actually engage?
Our nation has given over $400 million in assistance to Ukraine every year since 2014, including this year. $464 million in assistance to Ukraine. As I’ve mentioned before, Oklahomans and multiple others have gone to Ukraine to be able to train their military for them to be able to defend themselves. We’ve assisted the Ukrainian people with counter artillery radars, coastal defensive implements, geospatial intelligence, counter unmanned aerial system equipment, electronic warfare, de-mining equipment, small arms—we’ve tried to be able to help the Ukrainians defend themselves.
We need to also speak with a unified voice, that if Russia decides to move across that border into Ukraine that there are strong, unrelenting sanctions coming on that nation and that economy that is smaller than the economy of Texas. That we are keenly aware of how they survive based on oil and gas sales, and we are well prepared to be able to fill in the supply from other nations that are buying from Russia, that they will be welcome to buy from us, or from any other nation ready to be able to sell to them. To be able to supplant what Russia is choosing to do, to be able to use energy as a leverage point on every country in the region to say don’t respond or we’ll cut off your energy, we need to make it very clear that the world stands with the free people of Ukraine and we will bring severe consequences on the economy of Russia that will be long lasting. Not only primary sanctions, but secondary sanctions. In other words, if individuals choose to be able to do business with Russia, they have to choose. They can either do business with Russia or they can do business with the United States of America—you can’t do both. You have to pick.
With the largest economy in the world, I believe most would rather work with a free market, free nation, than to be able to work with an unstable Russia. But we should be clear—Russia has gone back on its word in the Minsk agreements. Russia has gone back on its word in multiple treaty agreements. We cannot trust what they say, but they should be able to trust what we will do if they choose to attack the free people of Ukraine.
Let me just say this—I firmly believe that the best thing we can do is to work to keep a war from ever starting rather than engage and try to stop it once it starts. We should speak clearly as a nation, we should speak clearly from the Administration, we should speak clearly from congress with a unified, nonpartisan voice, that the people of the United States want to do what it takes to keep a war from starting so that Europe doesn’t see yet another land war. That’s going to take focus from this body.
So what do we need to do? We should make the clear offer that we’ll provide energy to the rest of the world. That Russia cuts them off, we will rapidly move to be able to fill the gap. We should make it clear about our primary and secondary sanctions, we should make it clear on diplomatic channels and in public what we will do. We should continue to be able to work with our allies to be able to build a strong coalition and to reaffirm the NATO alliance that’s there. We should continue to be able to make it very clear to Russia if they choose to be able to move into Ukraine, it will not only be economically disastrous but NATO is well prepared to be able to defend our alliance.
We should stand with the people of Ukraine and continue to equip them as they work to be able to protect themselves. People of Ukraine in the times that I’ve been there—and I’ve been there several times—the people of Ukraine would be glad to be able to drive you through Kyiv and point out the places where they fought for their independence. They’re a proud people that do not want the Russians taking over their country. And they have fought for their independence once, and they’re prepared to fight for it again. They should know we’re prepared to stand next to them. Let’s pray for the people of Ukraine who, right now, who hear the guns practicing on the other side of their border. Let’s pray for peace. But let’s also do the work to build the groundwork for peace as well.