COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCBD) – Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) on Tuesday said that additional support for Ukraine and immediate sanctions on Russian President Vladimir Putin are necessary to thwart what some intelligence suggests could be an impending invasion of Ukraine, and to project an image of NATO strength to allies and adversaries watching carefully around the world.
Putin has troops stationed at all of Ukraine’s borders and has been building up those forces in recent days.
Over the weekend, the U.S. and other NATO countries sent military aid to Ukraine. Graham suggested increasing the flow of arms to Ukraine through a lend-lease agreement, which would send larger quantities of more sophisticated weapons.
“The more dead Russians, if he invades, the more likely this thing will end sooner rather than later.”Sen. Lindsey Graham
On Monday, President Joe Biden put 8,500 U.S. troops on heightened alert for deployment, should they be called upon to support NATO’s Rapid Response Force. Graham said that he supports sending the troops, saying the signal he wants to send is “we’re not going to back off.”
While the U.S. continues to bolster Ukraine’s ability to defend itself from Russian invasion, the current diplomatic strategy of the Biden Administration is to impose the most serious sanctions reactively. Graham contends that those sanctions should be implemented proactively.
“I do believe there’s growing bipartisan support to put sanctions on Putin and his buddies right now,” Graham said. “Don’t wait for the invasion. They’re destroying the Ukrainian economy. They’re throwing Europe into chaos.”
Opponents argue that imposing the sanctions now would reduce the amount of leverage the U.S. has over Russia. The argument is that if sanctions are threatened with the condition of invasion, then imposed before the invasion happens, Putin has nothing left to lose, which could escalate the already tense environment.
Regardless of the strategy, there is bipartisan agreement that the situation on the Ukrainian border has critical implications for the existing world order.
“Everybody is watching,” Graham explained. “This is a moment for NATO to show that as an organization, we’re willing to stand up for our values.”