Reactions to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine were immediate, and – at least for two of the candidates for Senate in Alabama – consistent: blame President Joe Biden.
Katie Britt is one of the candidates running to fill the seat which current Senator Richard Shelby will vacate in January. In an appearance on News and Views with Joey Clark on Montgomery’s Newstalk 93.1, Britt expressed her dismay at the Biden administration on the world stage.
“I am really, really irritated, frustrated and disgusted with the Biden Administration,’’ Britt said. “Every day that Joe Biden is in office we grow weaker and more vulnerable, and today is a perfect example of just that.”
Congressman Mo Brooks (AL-05) also appeared on the radio with Clark in a later segment and agreed with the lack of leadership by the Biden administration, but also said it is a problem with Europe as a whole.
“There are wolves and there are sheep,’’ said Brooks who, like Britt, is running for Shelby's seat. “Unfortunately, there are too many sheep in Europe and too many wolves in Russia. I wish that Europe had been stronger, and I wish Europe had presented more of a deterrent. They failed in their responsibility to provide adequate defense for Eastern Europe and, as a consequence, Ukraine is being devoured by the wolf.”
Reactions from the Alabama congressional delegation included Congressman Gary Palmer (AL-06) who issued a statement saying, “America and our allies must exact a high price from Putin and Russia, starting with imposing severe economic and diplomatic sanctions," Palmer said. "America should unleash the full strength of our oil and natural gas resources to help replace Europe’s dependency on Russia as their source for oil and natural gas. However, this must not be the end of our response. ... Consequently, the U.S. and our NATO allies should mobilize forces as a clear demonstration that any aggression against NATO members will be met swiftly and decisively." (Palmer's full statement is below).
As the state’s lone Democrat representative in Washington, Congresswoman Terri Sewell (AL-07) applauded Biden’s response.
“America must continue to stand for democratic values around the world, and I commend President Biden for standing up to Russian President Vladimir Putin and sending the clear message that America is committed to NATO,” Sewell said. “I was glad to see President Biden attempt to exhaust every diplomatic option possible to avoid a war in Ukraine and I applaud him for the strong sanctions he announced yesterday. If Russia chooses to continue on this path, there will be swift and severe consequences, including additional crippling sanctions.”
Sen. Richard Shelby released a statement on his Twitter account, saying “Putin’s invasion of Ukraine comes as no surprise. He is on a mission to reconstitute the Soviet Union. This should be a wake-up call for the U.S. and our allies in Europe. Putin must be taken very seriously. A strong, unified response is imperative.”
Brooks turned the responsibility toward Europe and the need for European leaders to defend themselves and not rely so much on the United States.
“Europe, quite frankly, [and] going back for 75 years has become too dependent on the United States for its security needs,’’ Brooks said. “They did not build up their own military even though they have vastly more population than Russia and vastly more economic capability than Russia.
“So, I lay this at the feet of the United States for not weaning [Europe’s] dependence on us, and at the feet of Europe for not providing for their own defensive capability. I’d say the one exception is President Trump, who did everything he could with NATO to get them to put up more of their share of the burden [for the cost of defense]. If a deterrent had been provided, Russia would not have attacked.”
Britt continued to point to a lack of leadership by the United States under Biden.
“It’s the failure of the Biden Administration that put us in this situation,’’ Britt told Clark. “He should have had bone-crushing sanctions and held people accountable and seen what was coming and been on the front end of this, not the tail end trying to do subpar measure that will deter no one.
“Most importantly, what we should do today is open back up our energy sector – ‘drill, baby, drill,’" Britt continued. "Make sure we are using the fact that we have the largest natural gas supplies in the entire world and there is no reason for us to allow Russia to have this grip on the rest of the globe. Look at what they export vs. what they import – oil and gas [are] responsible for more than 60% of Russian exports. It’s 40% of their annual GDP. We have the ability, the energy in the United States – that’s the quickest way to take away power from (Russia) today.”
Brooks said that President Biden played a major role in this situation by showing “the strength of a marshmallow.”
Brooks continued, “What happened in Afghanistan was a huge encouragement for belligerent nations to take advantage of what they perceived to be a weakened America that is rudderless because the President of the United States does not seem to have the capability – perhaps he lacks mental capability or the desire, whatever the case – to project on the international playing field like we used to be able to.”
Brooks said the United States needs to build up its military, but also that Europe has to shoulder more responsibility.
Brooks said, “We have to inspire Europe to have the backbone to protect themselves. If I’m a Balkan country right now, I’m scared to death about what Russia does next if Europe does nothing about Ukraine.”
Other members of the Alabama delegation released statements as well:
Rep. Jerry Carl (AL-01): "Putin’s invasion of Ukrainian sovereign territory is an act of pure evil, and he should be met with resolve and strength to support Ukraine and its people. The United States stands with the people of Ukraine and our NATO allies, and I strongly urge President Biden to enact the toughest possible sanctions to cripple Russia and prevent them from continuing unprovoked attacks."
Rep. Barry Moore (AL-02): “Vladimir Putin’s invasion of the sovereign nation of Ukraine is unprovoked and evil, but despite what President Biden says, this aggression was not inevitable. President Biden’s history of weakness and delayed action opened the door for Putin to continue the annexation of former Soviet territory that began with the invasion of Crimea during the Obama Administration. Pseudo-toughness, passive support and platitudes will never be enough to stop immoral autocrats like Putin. We must never forget what is happening today – and why it happened. I hope you’ll join me in praying for the people of Ukraine as they fight for their freedoms and calling on the Administration to – for once – act decisively and hold Putin accountable for this heinous aggression.”
Rep. Gary Palmer (AL-06) full statement: "Once again, the world faces the consequences of weak and indecisive leadership as an aging dictator attempts to reestablish a repressive and evil empire. Vladimir Putin has long harbored deep, malicious resentment over the breakup of the Soviet Union, and he has been clear about his aspiration to restore the Russian empire by subjugating former Soviet bloc nations. America and our allies must exact a high price from Putin and Russia, starting with imposing severe economic and diplomatic sanctions. America should unleash the full strength of our oil and natural gas resources to help replace Europe’s dependency on Russia as their source for oil and natural gas. However, this must not be the end of our response. Putin is expecting sanctions and is already seeking more economic support from countries like China, which have their own military pursuits in mind. At this point, it should be abundantly clear that Putin will not stop until he is convinced the cost will be too high. The United States and our allies must make the sanctions against Putin both damaging and persistent in order to end this violence and deter more from occurring. Consequently, the U.S. and our NATO allies should mobilize forces as a clear demonstration that any aggression against NATO members will be met swiftly and decisively."
Sen. Tommy Tuberville: "Putin is a tyrant attacking a sovereign nation. I condemn this unnecessary war and implore the free world to cripple Russia with sanctions. The United States stands with the Ukrainian people and will support them with the supplies and financial aid needed to protect their country."
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