Ernst urges Biden to be ‘very clear and very strong’ in call with Putin as US grows increasingly concerned about Russian military activity near Ukraine
The Iowa Republican told Fox News Sunday: “I think President Biden needs to be very clear and very strong in his message to Vladimir Putin. “He needs to tell Vladimir Putin that we will not allow him to continue with the Nord Stream 2 pipeline and we need you to know and understand that we will defend Ukraine and we will support them. It needs to make that very clear,” Ernst said, referring to the controversial new pipeline being built to move natural gas from Russia to Germany.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement Tuesday, Mr. Biden will hold “a secure video call” with Putin on Tuesday. “The leaders will discuss a wide range of topics in the US-Russia relationship, including strategic stability, cyber, and regional issues,” Psaki said. “President Biden will emphasize US concerns with Russia’s military activities on the border with Ukraine and reaffirm US support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
On Friday, Mr. Biden said the US has “long been aware of Russia’s actions – my expectation is that we will have a long discussion with Putin.”
Democratic Senator Chris Murphy said Sunday that while he is optimistic about the discussion between Biden and Putin, “I think there is no substitute for person-to-person diplomacy.”
“And so I hope that this meeting, this virtual meeting between President Biden and President Putin, can bear fruit,” the Connecticut Democrat told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union”.
Warning against any Russian aggression towards Ukraine, he said that if “Russia decides to move further into Ukraine, it will be a historic mistake for Moscow.”
“Ukraine could become the next Afghanistan for Russia if it chooses to go further. And Congress must make it clear that we are going to be a diplomatic, political and military partner with Ukraine,” added Murphy. “We’re going to give them increased military support so they can defend themselves. And I hope that we’ll take steps before Congress next week to make that clear.”
Russian forces are likely to be ready along the Ukrainian border for a quick and immediate invasion, including building supply lines such as medical and fuel units that can sustain a protracted conflict, should Moscow choose to invade, two sources familiar with the latest intelligence assessments recently told CNN.
In recent days, Russia has denied that it has any plans to attack Ukraine but has also demanded security guarantees from the West, such as a pledge not to allow Ukraine to join NATO.
Maegan Vazquez and CNN’s DJ Judd contributed to this report.