Sen. Chris Murphy appeared Tuesday on Anderson Cooper 360, where the Connecticut Democrat addressed the growing tensions between Russia and Ukraine, with Russia now reportedly having hundreds of thousands of troops posted at the Ukrainian border. Though Russia invaded Crimea, a pro-Russia area of Ukraine, in 2014 with little pushback, Murphy said things would go much differently if Russian President Vladimir Putin were to invade.
“There is going to be continued U.S. assistance, assistance to an army that’s ready to fight and a population that is not just going to let Russia march into the center of Ukraine,” Murphy said. “Putin seems to be getting absolutely horrible advice. People telling him he is going to be greeted as some kind of liberator in a country that has turned against Russia over the last 10 years and is going to fight for its survival.”
Murphy said that feelings in Ukraine have changed in recent years, with 60 to 70 percent of citizens now in favor of joining NATO, exactly what Putin is trying to stop from happening. But Murphy believes Putin would be making a terrible mistake if he decides to invade Ukraine, a decision that could be catastrophic for Russia. Murphy equated it to Russia’s failed invasion of Afghanistan in the 1980s.
“This, to me, would be the biggest mistake of Vladimir Putin's career. He will get bogged down inside Ukraine just like his predecessors got bogged down in Afghanistan in 1980 and 1981,” Murphy said. “Ukrainians are going to fight for their lives. There will be a long-term counterinsurgency. It will be bloody, it will be drawn out, and it will be a black mark on Russia that could end up leading to Russia’s downfall, as the Afghanistan invasion arguably contributed to the Soviet Union’s downfall.”
While the U.S. and some NATO allies are providing support for the Ukrainian military in the form of weapons and training, there may also be sanctions coming for Putin if Russia invades Ukraine, adding to the financial cost on top of the human cost of an invasion. Despite Russia’s warning, a new sanctions bill was recently introduced, and Murphy said that sanctions from multiple countries are on the table.
“My sense is that the British have been with us from the beginning and that other European allies are coming along to our view,” Murphy said, “and are now finally willing to, sort of, put up a set of potential sanctions that may ultimately be dispositive in convincing Putin that it's just not worth it.”
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