See below for video from Sen. Mark Warner’s latest “media availability,” held this morning. The focus this week was, not surprisingly – given that Sen. Warner is Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and that he’s about to fly over to the Munich Security Conference – the situation with Russia and Ukraine. According to Sen. Warner, “we have seen no real de-escalation efforts by Putin and the Russian forces,” and the Russians just kicked out the second-ranking diplomat in the US Embassy. Also, “we’ve seen reports at least of Russian shelling potentially into the eastern region of Ukraine, potentially in an effort to get the Ukrainians to react, which would then be the pretext for what could be a major, major Russian invasion, that would not be simply limited in the east, but…[could] involve capturing Kiev…capital of Ukraine.” See below the video for more.
- “I do think the administration and the West has shown a united front…There’s not been almost a day that’s gone by where there’s not been a European or American leader in Kiev…I call it ‘flooding the zone’, hopefully not having Russia invade while you’ve got a European leader on the ground in Ukraine.”
- Ukrainian citizens are training for an insurgency, meaning that Russian troops could “pay a heavy toll” if they invade.
- Sen. Warner is concerned about potential impacts of a major cyberattack against Ukraine, says it could have “huge ramifications in neighboring Poland, which IS a NATO nation…What level of cyberattack constitutes an act of war which would, in effect, trigger Article 5, which says…if you attack any NATO member…other NATO countries have to come to their aid; so we’re in very dangerous territory?” Sen. Warner also is concerned that Russia could launch cyberattacks against the US. “We are still in an extraordinarily dangerous week,” but hopefully Putin won’t attack Ukraine.
- Sen. Warner says we can’t give in to a “bully,” to “an authoritarian state,” says “this is the reason why NATO was created…we can’t walk away from that commitment.”
- “I hope and pray [Putin] takes a diplomatic off-ramp, but there’s…no current indication at that.”
- “What bothers me right now, we have media figures…I’m not going to say his name, who’s out there spouting Russian propaganda…I could not imagine, growing up, that…either political party would ever voice those kind of views.“