Sen. Cruz on the Crisis in Ukraine: ‘President Biden and the Democrats Have Imperiled Ukraine and Put Europe on the Brink of War’
‘Sanction Nord Stream 2 immediately and give the Ukrainians weapons so they can defend themselves’
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) took to the Senate floor to highlight how President Biden’s weakness and appeasement have been manifested in foreign policy crisis across the world—the Biden-Harris administration has ceded Afghanistan to the Taliban, enabled a Russian invasion of Ukraine, and now are hurtling to provide a nuclear arsenal to the Iranian regime and cede Taiwan to China. He described how our Ukrainian allies have said again and again that the only thing that can stop a Russian invasion is by immediately sanctioning Nord Stream 2 and sending them lethal aid—but those are exactly what over the last year the Biden administration has refused to do.
Watch Sen. Cruz’s remarks here. A full transcript is below:
Mr. President, there is a gathering storm in Europe. I rise today to discuss the brewing crisis posed by Russia's aggression. And tragically, how the reckless actions of President Biden have enabled it.
This morning, all 100 senators participated in the classified briefing where we heard from the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of State, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. We heard about the magnitude of the threat from Russia.
We stand here today with Europe facing the greatest peril it has faced since 1945. These are ominous and chilling times. And we did not arrive here by accident. Right now, 150,000 Russian troops are directly on the border of Ukraine, poised to invade, with more troops and more tanks arriving each and every day. It was also reported this week that Russia has sent additional blood supplies to its military equipment on the Ukraine border—another ominous signal that Russia plans to invade. Ukraine, and indeed the region and the world, find ourselves in this crisis because of President Biden's weakness, because of his appeasement, because of his surrender to Putin over the last year. And now, instead of rising to meet this moment with strength and resolve, President Biden continues to shrink from it with more weakness and appeasement.
One question that was raised in the briefing this morning is why didn't this happen in 2017? Why didn't it happen in 2018? Why didn't it happen in 2019? Why didn't it happen in 2020? What changed? Mr. President, I will suggest what changed. What changed is the occupant of the Oval Office, who has demonstrated weakness and appeasement virtually from the moment he rested his hand upon the Bible.
It's a pattern. As a result of President Biden's weakness and appeasement, this administration gave Afghanistan to the Taliban and 13 American service members were tragically murdered.
As a result of President Biden's weakness and appeasement, this administration is ramping up to give a nuclear arsenal to the Ayatollah in Iran. The very same Ayatollah who chants ‘Death to Israel’ and ‘Death to America.’ The Biden administration is preparing to facilitate that Ayatollah having the weapons of mass murder to carry out those pledges.
As a result of President Biden's weakness and appeasement, the Biden administration is in the process of ceding Taiwan to Xi. President Biden has even banned any Taiwanese official from displaying a Taiwanese military uniform or displaying a Taiwanese flag on US government property. Why? Because it offends the communist government in China.
And again right now, today, as a result of President Biden's weakness and appeasement, the Biden administration is in the process of abandoning Ukraine to Vladimir Putin.
Putin didn't just wake up one day and decide to invade Ukraine. He has wanted to invade Ukraine for years. And he did so in 2014. But he stopped short of a full invasion then because he couldn't endanger Ukraine's energy infrastructure, which Putin needs to get Russian natural gas to Europe. So Russia formed a consortium to build the Nord Stream 2 pipeline stretching directly from Russia to Germany under the sea so that Russian gas could circumvent Ukraine altogether.
We have long known about the dangers Nord Stream 2 poses. That's why in the last few years, Democrats and Republicans here in the Senate have come together repeatedly and taken bipartisan actions, passing sanctions on Nord Stream 2 with overwhelming majorities. I led that effort, drafting the Cruz-Shaheen sanctions. They were supported by every Democrat in this chamber. They passed overwhelmingly, and they worked. They succeeded. They stopped the pipeline, literally the day they were signed into law.
The story of how that happened is well known to every senator in this chamber. As is the story of how the new president, President Biden, inexplicably and catastrophically decided to squander that hard fought geopolitical victory and turn a victory for America into a loss for America and our allies.
Many Democratic senators standing on this Senate floor has quietly expressed frustration, confusion, anger, [as to] why the Biden administration would surrender to Russia and give away the victory we had won.
It's not only the decision to surrender on Nord Stream 2 and give Putin the pipeline that enables him to invade Ukraine that led to this day. Also, for the past year, President Biden has repeatedly, systematically undermined our Ukrainian allies in the face of Russian aggression to placate Putin. And it's worth noting, Biden does this for the same reason he undermines Taiwan—he undermines Taiwan to placate the Chinese Communists, he undermines Ukraine to placate Putin. To placate Putin, the Biden administration has repeatedly withheld military aid packages to Ukraine. Other times he has withheld diplomatic support to pressure our Ukrainian allies into supporting his misguided Nord Stream 2 surrender to Putin. Biden's actions for the past year have emboldened Putin, who acted on that weakness and has put Europe on the brink of war.
So what can we do right now today to promote peace and stop an invasion?
Well, our Ukrainian allies have told us again and again what we can do and what we should do. All we have to do in the Senate is listen to our friends in Ukraine who are on the front line. Number one, sanction Nord Stream 2 immediately, right now today. And number two, give the Ukrainians weapons so that they can defend themselves.
Just last week, the chairman of Ukraine's parliament wrote a letter to the Senate about exactly this. Mr. President, if you if you have not read the letter from the Ukrainian parliament, I commend it to you. It's an extraordinary letter from a nation on the brink of annihilation at the hands of Russian aggression. And I'm going to read parts of that letter right now, because it's worth quoting extensively.
The chairman of Ukraine's parliament writes, quote, “Nord Stream 2 is a source of multi-dimensional security, political, and economic threats to Ukraine and Europe as a whole. It is not an exaggeration than that Nord Stream 2 is no less an existential threat to Ukraine security and democracy than the Russian troops on our border. This pipeline must be stopped and the only way to prevent its completion is to use all the tools available to do that.”
The letter continues, quote, “So far, the decision to waive sanctions against Nord Stream 2 in May of 2021”— that was a decision by President Biden— “has emboldened Russia and caused Moscow to conclude that the United States may accommodate its hostile intentions.” The letter continues, “After a clear majority of the U.S. Senate voted 55 to 44 in favor of imposing immediate sanctions on Nord Stream 2 AG on January 13, 2022, it is essential that Congress include immediate sanctions against Nord Stream 2 AG in any new legislation to undercut options for Russia's aggressive actions on Ukraine.”
The letter goes on asking for, quote, a “clear trigger for the instant and unqualified imposition of any sanctions that are not imposed immediately upon enactment of the legislation,” arguing that quote, “While some sanctions—like sanctions against Nord Stream 2—should be imposed immediately to demonstrate to Moscow that the United States is indeed serious about severe measures, including removing Russia from SWIFT, the trigger for these future sanctions must be clear in order to be effective.”
The letter continues, quote, “a ‘significant escalation in hostilities,’ whose ‘aim or effect of undermining, overthrowing, or dismantling the Government of Ukraine, occupying the territory of Ukraine, or interfering with the sovereignty or territorial integrity of Ukraine’ is too high of a threshold to deter Russian aggression or affect the Kremlin's cost benefit analysis.”
The Ukrainians are crystal clear in this letter. The sanctions on Nord Stream 2 that Biden waived last year quote, in the words of the Ukrainians “emboldened Russia,” and allowed Putin to think, quote, “the United States may accommodate its hostile intentions.” In other words, because of Biden's weakness and appeasement on Nord Stream 2, Putin thinks there are no serious consequences to invading Ukraine. So the Ukrainians are asking, they are begging of the United States Senate for immediate sanctions on Nord Stream 2.
Do not abandon them. They cry at their hour of need. And they also state in the letter, quote, “Expedited and higher impact security assistance, including air defense, anti-ship and anti-armor capabilities” is what they need. That's what the Ukrainians have asked for.
But President Biden and most of the Senate Democrats aren't doing what our Ukrainian allies have called for. Instead, they're looking to pile appeasement on top of appeasement, and they're doing it in secret. The Biden administration has offered Putin sweeping concessions on NATO, when it comes to troops, when it comes to missiles, when it comes to military exercises. They transmitted this appeasement to Putin in secret and refuse to let Americans see the details. I've seen the details. And I can tell you they're deeply worrying. The reason the public hasn't seen them is the administration has placed them in a secure skiff. They're not classified, mind you. They're merely quote ‘confidential,’ which is Washington-speak for politically embarrassing, and the administration doesn't want to defend the substance of it.
That's why I'm introducing legislation called The PARTNER Act, which would prevent President Biden from endangering our longtime allies and frontline countries in NATO by prohibiting him from removing American troops from the countries that border Russia—meaning Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Romania, Poland—longtime allies. My legislation will prevent President Biden from offering yet more appeasement to Russia, from offering for America to abandon Eastern Europe to Russia, and from allowing President Biden to fatally undermine NATO.
Madam President, I also want to address the fact that some think we should stand down and not resist Russian aggression, because they say Biden will send American troops into Ukraine and start a shooting war with Russia. If Putin invades, I want to be clear and unequivocal: we should not have American soldiers in Ukraine. Under no circumstances should we send our sons and daughters to die to defend Ukraine from Russia. If the Biden administration proposes that because their foreign policy is collapsing around that, I will vigorously oppose such a move, and the vast majority of Americans do as well. But critically, for Ukrainians aren't asking for that. Ukraine is not asking for a single American soldier. Ukraine is saying do two things—sanction Nord Stream 2, the pipeline that enables the Russian aggression, and provide them with the military weapons so that they the Ukrainians can fight to defend their own nation from the invading Russian army.
Some Americans are asking, ‘Why should we care what happens to Ukraine? Or what happens to NATO countries that border Russia?’ Now let me be clear, there are some who justify American foreign policy and say we have an amorphous obligation to protect democracies, we have an obligation to protect international norms. Madam President, I think all of that is bunk. We have an obligation to protect the national security of the United States of America. The commander in chief’s obligation is to keep Americans safe. What does that mean in this context? Well, I want to make four points.
Number one, what Putin is trying to do is reassemble the USSR. If he succeeds in doing so, it would be catastrophic for global stability and American security. Putin and Russia are an enemy of America. When the Soviet Union was bigger, stronger, mightier, and with a bigger military, the lives of Americans and the lives of our allies were in far greater jeopardy. It is overwhelmingly in America's interest to prevent Putin from reassembling the Soviet Union, because we do not wish for our enemies to become stronger and use that strength against us.
Number two, Putin is trying to seize control of energy. If he's successful, it will be felt by Americans filling up their cars with gas or trying to heat their homes in the winter. We've already seen what Putin has done with Nord Stream two, and he's not going to stop there.
Number three, we have a formal obligation, a commitment the United States made, to help the Ukrainians defend themselves. Why is that? Well, after Ukraine successfully declared independence from the USSR in 1991, the United States signed an agreement. An agreement called the Budapest Memorandum on Security Assistance. The Budapest Memorandum, under the terms of it, Ukraine agreed to give up its nuclear weapons. Ukraine had the third largest stockpile of nuclear weapons on the face of the planet. America agreed quite reasonably the world would be safer if Ukraine did not have nukes. And the brand new Ukrainian government agreed and gave up their nuclear weapons, making America safer and the world safer. But the Ukrainian government did not do so for nothing. It did so in exchange for explicit assurances that the United States would protect Ukraine's territorial integrity. Let me reiterate that: the United States made a formal commitment to the Ukrainians that if they gave up their nuclear weapons, we would help them protect themselves. And the Ukrainians are asking us to honor our commitment in the form—and they're very specific what they're asking—in the form of immediate sanctions on Nord Stream 2 and weapons so they can defend themselves.
We need to send them lethal aid, the kind of firepower the Ukrainians need to defend themselves—not the blankets and teddy bears and meals that the Obama administration sent the last time Russia invaded Ukraine.
And number four, we have treaty obligations to NATO countries on the frontlines of Putin's aggression. Putin wants NATO to withdraw foreign forces, including American forces, from the countries that border Russia—from Bulgaria, from Poland, from Romania, from Estonia, from Latvia, from Lithuania. But to withdraw American forces from NATO would be seen as and in fact would be an abdication of our commitment to NATO. It would either shatter the NATO alliance, the most successful alliance in modern history, or it would put into motion dynamics that would ultimately shatter NATO. Which is why as I mentioned I'm introducing the PARTNER Act to prevent the Biden administration, their weakness and appeasement, from destroying NATO and undermining American security.
On every one of these four points, Biden has demonstrated weakness and appeasement to Putin. And I would note, you might ask, ‘Why should America honor our commitments? Why should we honor our commitment in the Budapest Memorandum? Why should we honor our treaty commitments to the NATO countries?’ Because one of the ways we protect American national security is when we make an agreement with a country, when we make a formal legal agreement, we honor our commitments. And we want countries to know that we stand by our friends, that we stand by our word, that our treaties mean something. Because if countries learned that under weak and feckless presidents, our treaties, our formal binding legal documents, aren't worth the paper they're written on, \it undermines the ability of any president of the United States to negotiate agreements with our friends and allies that keep Americans safe.
When Ronald Reagan was standing up and confronting the evil empire, we saw the virtues of peace through strength. Biden's foreign policy seems to invite war through weakness. There are actions we can take today, like sanctioning Nord Stream 2, like sending lethal aid to Ukraine, like committing to keep our NATO forces in countries that border Russia—all of these actions would show Putin that the United States will stand up to aggression and defend our national interests.
We should take these actions without delay. We should stand in bipartisan unity in support of American national security in opposition to Russian aggression. And if we do not, if the Senate acquiesces to Biden's weakness and appeasement and Russia invades Ukraine—and weeks from now there are Russian tanks in the streets of Kiev—Ukraine, and Europe, and America, and the world will reap the whirlwind.
This is our opportunity to act. I pray that we take it. I yield the floor.