FederalCruz, Cornyn Criticize White House Response to Russian War Against Ukraine

The Texas senators criticized the White House for its foreign policies leading up to and amid the ongoing Russian war against Ukraine.
March 16, 2022
At a press conference of several GOP senators following Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s address to Congress Wednesday morning, Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and John Cornyn (R-TX) criticized the Biden administration’s response to Russia’s attack on Ukraine.

“What is so frustrating is that this was entirely preventable,” said Cruz. “This war didn’t have to happen — the most significant war in Europe since 1945, since the end of World War II. There were two specific mistakes made by the White House that caused this war.”

First, Cruz said that the botched withdrawal of forces from Afghanistan “emboldened America’s enemies.” And second, he pointed to the administration’s halt of sanctions against the Nord Stream 2 Pipeline that connected Russia and Germany.

Last year, Cruz blocked the swift approval of many of Biden’s State Department nominees, demanding that the administration reimpose the sanctions against the Russian-backed pipeline that the president lifted shortly after his inauguration last year.

The senator lifted his holds on some nominations in exchange for Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) agreeing to hold a vote on his bill that would reimpose the sanctions.

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Zelensky urged U.S. senators to back Cruz’s legislation, but most Democrats voted against it, preventing its passage in the upper chamber.

“Two weeks ago, when every member of Congress was on the video conference call with President Zelensky, he told all of us that if the United States had sanctioned Nord Stream 2 last year, Putin would not have invaded,” Cruz said at the press conference Wednesday. “It was the White House’s political decision to waive those sanctions that caused this invasion.”

“The Biden administration’s timidity in the face of this evil needs to end, and end today,” said Cornyn.

Cruz and Cornyn called for stronger U.S. support to Ukraine, particularly in light of what Zelensky requested in his address to members of Congress earlier in the day.

In his speech, Zelensky likened the attacks his country is currently facing to the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor and the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.

“Right now, at this moment, every night, for three weeks now, there are various Ukrainian cities [. . . where] Russia has turned the Ukrainian sky into a source of death for thousands of people,” said Zelensky through a translator.

Along with his speech, the Ukrainian president shared a graphic video contrasting life in the nation before and after the Russian attacks.

Zelensky reiterated his calls for the establishment of a “no-fly zone” in Ukraine, which would prohibit aerial Russian attacks under the threat of interception from American forces.

“If this is too much to ask, we offer an alternative,” he said. “You know what kind of defense systems we need.”

The Ukrainian president asked the U.S. for assistance with military equipment, specifically requesting surface-to-air missile systems and aircraft.

“You know how much depends on the battlefield, on the ability to use aircraft — powerful, strong aviation to protect our people, our freedom, our land,” said Zelensky.

The urge for aircraft comes as the White House has faced increased criticism for its rejection of a Polish proposal to transfer several dozen MiG-29s to Ukraine in exchange for the U.S. to replace them with F-16s.

“We should not dictate from Washington, D.C. what sort of weapons they can get access to,” said Cornyn at the press conference. “Where does the Biden administration get off saying, ‘Well, we’ll give you this but not that,’ when people are trying to defend their very lives and their national sovereignty against a megalomaniac dictator like Vladimir Putin?”

“We should let them make the decision and provide them everything they need in order to defend themselves and their country and defeat Vladimir Putin,” said Cornyn.

Cruz likewise said that one of the two things the U.S. needs to do in order to support Ukraine is to provide fighter jets — noting, though, that they should be flown by Ukrainian pilots, not Americans.

The second step Cruz advocated was to “take away Putin’s revenue from oil and gas.”

“Vladimir Putin is a petro tyrant. This war is being funded by his sales of oil and gas,” said Cruz calling on Biden to “unleash American production” and urging European allies to “sign long-term contracts” with American or allied oil and gas producers.

“The Biden team is resigned to failure, to Putin’s winning,” said Cruz. “Putin can be defeated, but only if we stand with our Ukrainian allies, we provide them with the weapons they need to defend themselves, and we take away Putin’s revenue from oil and gas. That is the path to victory.”

Cruz and many other Republicans and Democrats alike have stopped short of supporting Zelensky’s call for a no-fly zone, though.

“We should not put American servicemen and women in harm’s way. We should not put boots on the ground. It’s the reason I oppose a no-fly zone” said Cruz during an interview on Tuesday.

“I understand why [Zelensky] wants that. And there’s been some Democrats, some Republicans that have foolishly echoed that call,” said Cruz. “But a no-fly zone would be a mistake because that has American pilots and American fighter jets engaged in direct conflict with Russian pilots and Russian fighter jets. And that’s an invitation to escalation, an invitation to World War III. We don’t want to see that”

In response to Zelensky’s address to Congress, other members of the Texas delegation applauded the Ukrainian president and reiterated their support for his country in the face of Putin’s aggression.

Contrasting with the Texas senators’ criticism of the Biden administration, Rep. Colin Allred (D-TX-32) praised the White House for its response in a statement.

 “A murderous dictator has launched an unprovoked and unjustified attack on a sovereign democratic neighbor and in the process killed hundreds of civilians – including pregnant women and children,” said Allred. “This is a tragedy and has been met with a global response led by President Biden.”

Another item of support that Zelensky requested during his speech was for “new packages of sanctions [. . .] every week until the Russian military machine stops.”

Sanctions were among the things that Allred says Congress and the White House will aid Ukraine with.

“The U.S. Congress, working hand in hand with the Biden Administration, will ensure that we do all we can to get the Ukrainians everything they need to defend themselves, alleviate the humanitarian suffering, punish Putin with sanctions, and continue working with our allies to find a diplomatic solution,” said Allred.

Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX-35), whose legislation to ban Russian energy imports was approved by the House last week, also lauded the address to Congress.

“Powerful message from President Zelensky to us in Congress just now,” said Doggett. “Even more powerful video of the mass murder occurring daily in Ukraine. We must do more.”

Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX-02) called Zelensky’s address “heart wrenching,” and shared the calls of his congressional colleagues for the nation to “be doing much more to stop the bloodshed without provoking a direct war with Russia.”

“Primarily, missile and air defense systems, armed drones, and of course accepting and facilitating the Polish offer to provide MiG fighters,” said Crenshaw.


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Daniel Friend

Daniel Friend is the Marketing and Media Manager for The Texan. After graduating with a double-major in Political Science and Humanities, he wrote for The Texan as a reporter through June 2022. In his spare time, you're likely to find him working on The Testimony of Calvin Lewis, an Abolition of Man-inspired novel and theatrical podcast.