tv Sen. Shaheen and Sen. Wicker Discuss Russia- Ukraine Tensions CSPAN February 4, 2022 2:28am-2:58am EST
can best adjust -- address russia-ukraine tensions. >> today's discussion drills down on what is happening in ukraine right now, and how the u.s. government particularly congress is working to help ukraine withstand russian aggression. our guests are senators jeanne shaheen of new hampshire and roger wicker of mississippi, senator wegner is the second-highest ranking member of the armed services committee. cochair of the u.s. helsinki commission, and cochair of the osce, t is also an air force veteran. senator shaheen is on the foreign relations, and chairs the subcommittee on european security cooperation. she has been a vocal critic of
russia's incursions into ukraine and georgia, and for her good work and effort she has been sanctioned by the kremlin and denied a visa to russia, and as the light senator mccain would say there goes spring break in siberia. on a serious note, both senators are co-authors of the ukraine democracy land-lease act which would help expedite the delivery of military equipment to protect vulnerable civilian populations against russian aggression. and both recently visited ukraine meeting with president zelensky, and ministers of energy, foreign affairs and defense. i'll begin by turning it to senator shaheen for a few words. sen. shaheen: thank you, mark and thank you for your past service. i appreciate being here with my colleagues, senator wicker from mississippi and with all the folks who are watching at the wilson center's program.
ambassador greene pointed out senator mark and i were part of a bipartisan delegation of seven senators who visited ukraine about 10 days ago. we wanted to send a strong, unified message that there is bipartisan support for ukraine and bipartisan opposition to what vladimir putin is looking at doing, amassing his trips on the ukrainian border on three sides of the country and talking about invading. and what's particularly ironic is that while he is complaining about the threat to russia from nato and the ukraine and from the west, the fact is that his actions that are uniting nato in ways they haven't been united in a very long time, and the real threat is coming from russia. so i look forward to this discussion, and we will continue to try and do everything we can in congress to also provide
deterrents to what putin is doing. there are number of aces of legislation that i think help to do that. mr. green: thank you, senator wicker? sen. wicker: senator shaheen is an experienced senator who was used to the filibuster, and she managed to do as she said she worked, give brave remarks. mec how brave i can be. -- let me see how brave i can be. i attended a bipartisan, bicameral hearing with the polish foreign minister, and it hearkened me back to the days when i was in rotc student and was about to enter the air force. i never thought poland would be very. -- would be free. i was pessimistic about that, and yet today we were hearing from the polish foreign minister
about their upcoming chairmanship in office of the osce. it struck me about how far we have come, i am a vet of ronald reagan, and ronald reagan called the soviet union the evil empire. there were all sorts of deaths and imprisonments, and executions to prove that. the evil empire broke up, and poland is free, when they have an election you don't know who will win until because are counted, unlike russia. ukraine came along a little later, but they want to be in charge of their destiny. and our international rules based system of agreements
ratifies that. if ukraine wants to look westward rather than back towards what used to be the ussr, that's the right of the ukrainian people to do that under and agreed-upon international rules-based regime. they decided they want to have a free market, and free elections and make their own choices. they have every right to do that, and i was not aware that mr. zelik [sic] had made such a presentation but thank you for doing that ambassador, i very much appreciate that. if you are interested in a pre-poland, if you are -- in a free followed, then you are
interested in what happens in ukraine today. if you are interested in a free pacific, and a taiwan that gets to make their own decisions and have their own elections and chart their own course, and you are interested -- then you're interested in what happens this month in ukraine. if you are interested in averting a humanitarian disaster, a massive refugee crisis not only in western europe that spills over and you are interested in the ability of the ukrainian people to have freely elected leadership to defend themselves. we are talking about something that goes way beyond kyiv and affects us right here in our cozy little capitals in washington, d.c.
so thanks for having me. mr. green: senator shaheen, this is not your first trip to ukraine. you were there six months ago, how are things changed in that time, how are things different from that most recent visit in january? sen. shaheen: i think it is fair to say that president zelensky and the leadership of ukraine is much more focused on the russian threat, and that has increased as the intelligence has become clearer. and i think the united states has done a good job of sharing that intelligence with the ukrainian leadership, as well as throughout europe. one of the biggest deterrents we can provide to what russia is thinking about in the ukraine is to present a united front, the united states and nato, the united states and our european allies because the potential
impact of sanctions if we stand together on russia is about 10 times greater than if it is just the united states. i think there has been a huge diplomatic initiative underway to try and make sure everybody has the same information about what russia is planning, and we can see, if you are watching the news at night, you are seeing the buildup of russian troops on three sides of your rain, -- ukraine, not just that eastern border, but also the northern border in belarus. senator worker and i cochaired that free belarus caucus. because one huge concern is that russia is going to advance into ukraine from three sides of the country. the defense is in ukraine are
working very hard, they are focused, this is a very different ukraine then russia invaded in 2014 when they took crimea. they have been at war for eight years, in the eastern part of the country they have lost 14,000 ukrainians in that war which is a huge number that thought. bravely. and one of the things they said to us when they were there is that they intend to defend their country. they understand that russia has more troops, greater military capability, but this is a country now that no longer as roger said look seized, -- look seized, it is -- looks east, it is looking west, they want to determine their own future as a sovereign country. sen. wicker: mark, there is not a sense of panic among the leadership there. and i think sometimes that is
misinterpreted in our media. our leadership in the west is actually more open about predicting that this actually will be an invasion. president zelensky doesn't want to do that. it's more of a sense of not wanting to cause panic. and there isn't panic either among the leadership or any of the indications we saw during the short time, i sense there is resolved. if mr. putin embeds, -- invades, which he may very well do this month, he will have a good day or two, he might have a very good first week, he has overwhelming military support. ukrainians have not asked us for trip at all, but there will be an insurgency for months and
years and decades to come if vladimir makes this mistake. and russian kids will go home in body bags, and their moms and dads are going to see that, i think it will turn out to be one of the worst mistakes that mr. putin could possibly make. but how it turns out a week from now, or at the end of february is far different from the sword of insurgency that the russian invaders are going to see for years to come. these people remember how it used to be not to be free, and they never intend to have that again. mr. green: you were talking about about how things have changed, senator shaheen, since you were there last. but also in the last number of days this is a rapidly changing landscape, as we're meeting, we
read this morning that president biden is sending 3000 troops to europe, not to ukraine, but to our key nato allies at the request, as well as putting 8000 troops on heightened alert recently. in terms of the u.s. role, we are moving, and it is evolving rapidly, is it enough, senator shaheen? sen. shaheen: only vladimir putin can decide that. he has been given a number of off ramps to decide diplomacy rather than invasion. and it's not clear who he listens to, and what he's going to decide. i was on a call yesterday with the ambassadors from the baltic nations, lithuania, latvia, estonia, as well as the deputy from poland, and one of the things that they are all very concerned about is if russia
goes into ukraine, who is going to be next? they are very pleased, they commented how pleased they were that we were going to be sending additional troops in. they talked about the unifying message from nato. again it's just ironic that putin talks about ukraine as a situation where the provocation is going to come from ukraine and the west and it is actually putin who is providing that provocation and his intent to divide the united states and our allies, to divide nato, it is having the opposite effect because it is unifying nato in ways that the organization hasn't been in many decades. sen. wicker: she's exactly right. the headline in the washington
post today says the united states is predicting that russia will plot a staged attack as a pretext for ukrainian invasion. i think that's exactly what people expect him to do, it's what he did in georgia in 2008, when he invented a pretext and accused this new democratic republic of georgia of causing them to have to move in and invade. it's the very same language, whether it is the light 1930's, -- late 1930s or vladimir putin who is of the same stripe in 2022.
he is the neighborhood bully who has always got an excuse. and whatever we do this time, the neighborhood bully has got to get a bloody knows. nobody's ever given vladimir putin a bloody knows, he will regret this in so many ways. and i certainly hope the nord stream 2 pipeline is shut down for many many years when this happens. i hope the banking system and the system that has propped up his multibillionaire buddies will be sanctioned, and i hope even yet he will think this through and perhaps we can avoid this. mr. green: the two of you have emphasized the important element of being bipartisan in our approach towards ukraine. you are both co-authors of the land lease provision legislation, what do you think that will do in terms of helping
ukraine? sen. shaheen: part of that bill is to make sure that ukraine doesn't want for supplies, weapons, equipment, because they might not have the funding to cover it at the time. it's based on what we did during the battle of britain before world war 2 when we were looking to support england against germany. i think it's important to point out that we expect to see a bill out of the foreign relations committee that's being negotiated by the chair and ranking member that will address many of the issues we heard from the ukrainians that they are concerned about, sanctions, weapons and support, looking at what we can do to address some
of the urgent needs russia is going to have if they invade. so things like export controls to try and shut down russia's manufacturing industry in ways that will prevent them from operating continued invasions. as roger said, one of the questions of has to ask himself -- vladimir putin has to ask himself is i may be successful in week one, but then i am going to own a country that is the second largest in europe that does not want russia in the country and is prepared to undergo and is training for civil defense, and for operations against an invader like russia.
so unfortunately, he doesn't seem to be listening to people, hopefully he is asking himself that question because there is still time to deter this battle. mr. green: senator booker, it sounds as if we are closing in a sanctions -- in on a sanctions bill. sen. wicker: i think so, there is a possibility it might be put on a spending bill. immediate sanctioning of nord stream 2, 55 democrats and republicans voted for that, we did not get to 60. that is one thing we could have done which we may learn to regret. another thing we could do is pass the defense appropriation bill as part of an omnibus bill
as soon as possible. and if someone from the administration is within the sound of my voice right now, i would call on the president to get the leadership of the house and senate in his office today and say let's iron out our differences, clearly there is going to be give-and-take on both sides, democrats usually want to plus up domestic spending. but i think everybody agrees that working off of the defense appropriations from a year and a half ago are completely inadequate and sending the wrong signal, not only to vladimir putin and people like him, but to our friends and potential adversaries all over the world. i would hope what is about to
happen would build a fire under us. let's get our national defense spending up-to-date, and let's heightened that. let's heighten that as an issue. jack reed has been speaking every day on the floor of the senate about that, and the alarm bells still don't seem to be going off. i can't think of a better signal than getting our defense plus top -- plussed up. sen. shaheen: you are right, this is something our allies are looking at. they want to know can we get a budget from the united states? and our adversaries are sure looking at that. putin is saying they can't pass a budget, they are never going to unite against our actions. and china is looking at that as well. so this is critical for us to get done. i had a chance to have breakfast
with a bar partisan group in the commons down at the marine corps, and we asked what is the impact going to be if we don't have a budget, and you have to work off a continuing resolution? and he was very concerned about what the impact was going to be. mr. green: let's hope we get there. i'm going to ask you a more difficult question. i think the taft question is, given what both of you have laid out, we have seen invasion of crimea, georgia, and of course, moldova and amassing of troops, so what does success look like? how do we know if what we are putting together is successful? sen. shaheen: success would be putin deciding that the costs of invading ukraine are too high for russia and he's not going to
do it. obviously, the buildup has continued despite diplomatic efforts, despite the unifying message coming out of nato and the stance of our allies but it's important for us to continue to make as clear as possible what the costs are going to be for putin, for his oligarch friends, for the economy of russia, and ultimately for the people. i remember when russia seized crimea and went into eastern parts of ukraine. there were a number of news reports that putin was trying to suppress the stories coming out about russian troops who are going home in body bags because there is discontent in russia about what was happening there.
if he continues with this effort, he is going to see that again and there is going to be concern among the russian people, this is not a democracy, it is a dictatorship, he still has to pay attention to other people of the country want. i think the effort needs to continue, hopefully we continue to get the budget moving in congress. hopefully we get the sanctions package done in a way that will show we are acting together against russia in support of the efforts of the united states and the transatlantic alliance, and he will ultimately decide not to invade. but if he does, we better make sure he pays the cost of that because this is a dictator who does not understand anything except our -- power. he needs a bloody noise -- nose
if he continues to bully the countries of europe. if you successful in ukraine, who knows where he is going to stop. sen. wicker: maybe he needs to go back and watch charlie wilson's war. in the end, after a dismal invasion which they could not stop, the people of afghanistan were armed and finally ran the russians off. immediate success would be a miracle, and that would be against the prediction of all the pundits and people who are looking at this inside and outside the administration. for someone in that country to be able to speak truth to power, i worry that there is no one that vladimir putin is willing to listen to. that there is no one willing to give him a contrary scenario of
one a disaster this might be for him. that's one of the great things about the united states. i can tell joe biden that he is absolutely wrong, and he's about to make a monumental mistake, and i don't have to go to jail that night. or i don't have to risk being poisoned. i don't know that anybody listens to him, but if someone on the inside could say vladimir, i am your friend and you are about to go down in history is making one of the worst mistakes ever in the history of russia - that would be success. otherwise, success is going to be long-term. in the end, democratic for elected -- freely elected countries don't invade their neighbors. dictatorships with strongmen invade their neighbors, and that is why we have an international rule of law. mr. green: senator shaheen, any
final words? sen. shaheen: hopefully we can continue these deterrence measures, the diplomacy, and ultimately putin does not invade because it would be difficult, disaster in ukraine long-term, i think disaster for russia and it would have impact throughout the world. so it's very important for us to continue to do everything we candidate her him from making that -- we candidate her him from making that very bad mistake. mr. green: thank you for sharing time with us. to access other hindsight upfront programs, as well as other scholarship on ukraine, russia and the region please go to w ilcenter.org/hindisghtukraine. the wilson center was charted
continues. host: our first guest of the morning is representative bryan steil, a member of the financial services committee and on economic fairness and growth. he is the ranking member of that committee. thank you for joining us. >> thanks for having me on. when it looks as matters of the economy, what topics of the committee focused on? guest: there are a whole host of topics we are covering. we are diving into what are the challenges americans are phasing to get back to their way of life and in particular we have seen a challenging two years. people i've seen their incomes go down, seen prices go up, so we are really diving into some of the underlying issues that