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Tuesday, February 1, 2022

OPINION:

Why does Ukraine matter for American families? Simply put: Energy prices, inflation and the empowerment of our adversaries across the world. Russian President Vladimir Putin wants to recreate the Soviet empire, divide our allies in Europe, and expand his malign influence across the globe. 

Rather than former President Donald Trump’s approach of Peace Through Strength, President Biden’s foreign policy can best be characterized as war through weakness. During the Trump administration, Mr. Putin never attempted anything close to such an invasion of Ukraine. Mr. Putin understood that a severe price would be paid, as Mr. Trump, along with Congress, more than tripled the size of the European Deterrence Initiative, providing military support to countries on Russia’s borders, and selling Javelin missiles to Ukraine, which former President Barack Obama failed to deliver. 


The Biden administration gave Mr. Putin the biggest gift an American president has ever given the Russian dictator by waiving sanctions required by Congress in the Protecting Europe’s Energy Security Act, despite Mr. Putin’s hacking and shutting down the Colonial Pipeline for six days, and shocking gas prices, just months earlier. Mr. Putin’s answer: more aggression and the largest-ever military buildup on Ukraine’s border. Rather than push back, Mr. Biden just two weeks ago appeared fine with a “minor incursion” into Ukraine. Biden officials have floated pulling back missile defense deployments in  Europe, limiting the size and scope of military exercises, and even reentering the failed Intermediate Nuclear Forces treaty, which was violated by Russia and was withdrawn from by Mr. Trump, if Mr. Putin promised not to enter Ukraine. Yet even Mr. Biden seems to understand that his policy has completely failed, with CNN reporting that Mr. Biden told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Thursday that an invasion by Russia is all but assured.  

Mr. Putin wants to keep Ukraine dependent on Russian oil. He wants the Nord Stream 2 pipeline to neutralize Germany. With money, the oligarchs controlling the oppressed Russian people can attempt to re-create the Soviet empire with a military-industrial complex, recently developing hypersonic missiles to attack America as Russia threatens to send troops in Cuba and Venezuela. In addition, Mr. Putin is working closer than ever with China in the military and economic arenas. Both countries are directly helping Iran, the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism, bypass American sanctions. 

The effect of a war in Ukraine on American families will be catastrophic. China is following our weak response to Mr. Putin’s aggression in Ukraine closely, in addition to our surrender in Afghanistan, as it threatens Taiwan in an unprecedented fashion and moves even closer to aggression against the island. In addition, the results will be felt by Germany, Japan, Korea, Israel and India with the cost of gas increasing, doubling in my state of South Carolina alone, from the Trump administration to the Biden administration, crippling families with more inflation as transportation and delivery costs create shortages. 

On my visit to Kyiv, Ukraine, in December, I was shocked that the Biden response was repeating the Afghanistan disaster of leaving Americans behind to provide $40 million “after the invasion.” Of note, there are currently 10,000 Americans in Ukraine, and 14,000 Ukrainians died in the 2014 Putin invasion.  

I am grateful with bipartisan cooperation, the Biden policies have changed to reinforce the Trump policies of javelin missiles to Ukraine, reinforcing American troops in Poland, and promoting blocking of Nord Stream 2. It was revealing that our Delegation Leader, Democrat Ruben Gallego of Arizona, was publicly threatened in a television interview by a member of the Russian Duma to be kidnapped and brought to Moscow for trial for supporting Kyiv.  

The Biden policy should be Peace Through Strength. War can be avoided if we impose real costs on Mr. Putin. The latest defensive weapons for land, air and sea should be provided to Ukraine, the largest country in Europe by geography with 43 million citizens. Our German allies should terminate Nord Stream 2 and its corruption forever. We should also immediately kick Russia out of the International SWIFT Code System, sanction the Russian financial system and sovereign debt to ensure that Mr. Putin does not have the resources to finance an invasion.

I was grateful to co-lead the Putin Accountability Act with the Republican Study Committee, which would do just that along with sanctions of Mr. Putin and his family directly, and his network of corrupt oligarchs. 

• Joe Wilson is a U.S. House of Representatives member serving South Carolina’s 2nd District.


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