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Nuland: "Russia will lose this conflict."

March 8, 2022

Testifying before a nearly full attendance of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee today, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland said the situation in Ukraine has become a "catastrophic humanitarian crisis." She said the conflict there has produced over two million refugees, many of them children, in the last twelve days, and said the State Department had "internally estimated five million refugees from the beginning" of the invasion by Russian Federation forces. She said that the need to get humanitarian assistance, including food, to civilians who are still trapped inside Ukraine has become more urgent, and predicted that "Russia's tactics will become more brutal." Under Secretary Nuland described Russian proposals to direct refugees along a corridor into Russian ally Belarus as "very cynical." Committee chairman Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) said a UNICEF spokesperson had reported to him that there has been "no refugee crisis of this speed and scale since World War II." Several committee members pressed Under Secretary Nuland on the need to supply Ukraine with aircraft and other military assistance such as surface to air missiles that have been requested by Ukraine, most recently in a letter from the Ukrainian parliament to the US congress. Under Secretary Nuland said she "will continue to convey the very strong bipartisan views" of the committee on that subject to the administration. Asked by Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) if pressure from sanctions and an insurgency inside Ukraine will compel Russian president Vladimir Putin to withdraw his forces, Under Secretary Nuland replied, "Russia will lose this conflict." She said the only question is how long long that will take, adding that many lives will be saved if the invasion can be drawn to a swift end. Under Secretary Nuland said that if Putin sees public sympathy for the invasion eroding inside Russia, along with his "standing with the Russian military," then he may regard his "Ukrainian gambit" as unprofitable, and seek an exit strategy from the conflict. She said that officials and journalists in Ukraine have done "a spectacular job" in documenting atrocities committed by Russian forces, and said that independent media around the world are critical in the effort to "get the truth into Russia" despite "Putin's efforts to blind his own people," referring to what she called a "complete freeze on independent press" there. Ranking Member Senator Jim Risch (R-ID) said the US must be ready to implement secondary sanctions "the second we see" affected parties "trying to get around" existing sanctions. Under Secretary Nuland said the multi-lateral nature of secondary sanctions would require a longer phase-in on "energy carve-outs." She said the administration is working to get the support of the G7 to help prevent other countries from becoming havens for "dirty Russian money." Referring to the global effects of the war in Ukraine, Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) said, "Anyone who has questioned the value of alliances understands it now." He derided Putin's declared goal of "de-nazifying" Ukraine. He said Ukrainian president Zelenskyy's own grandfather fought with the Red Army against Hitler in the second world war, and is himself one of two Jewish heads of state in the world. In closing remarks, Senator Menendez said, "I want to send a message to those who chose to abstain," referring to a March 2 United Nations vote on an overwhelmingly approved resolution to condemn Russia's invasion of Ukraine. "You really should think about what side of history you want to be on, because the world is watching, and we are watching."

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