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17 Apr, 2022 22:52

Biden ally floats idea of US troops in Ukraine

Senator suggests Ukraine may ‘turn into Syria’ unless the US and NATO ‘stop Putin’
Biden ally floats idea of US troops in Ukraine

US Senator Chris Coons, a politician described by media outlets as President Joe Biden’s closest Senate ally, has raised the idea of deploying American troops to fight Russians in Ukraine, saying he fears the former Soviet republic will “become the Syria of Eastern Europe.”

“The American people cannot turn away from this tragedy in Ukraine,” Coons said on Sunday in a CBS News interview. “I think the history of the 21st century turns on how fiercely we defend freedom in Ukraine and that Putin will only stop when we stop him.”

Asked by host Margaret Brennan about his recent comments calling for US leaders to discuss troop deployments to Ukraine, Coons said policy makers must consider the “level of brutality” exhibited by Russian forces. He credited Biden with pulling Western allies together to impose “crushing sanctions” on Russia, but suggested that more direct action may be needed as Russian President Vladimir Putin raises the stakes.

“If Vladimir Putin, who has shown us how brutal he can be, is allowed to just continue to massacre civilians, to commit war crimes throughout Ukraine without NATO, without the West coming more forcefully to his aid, I deeply worry that what's going to happen next is that we will see Ukraine turn into Syria,” Coons said. Presumably, he meant to say that the US and NATO need to come more forcefully to Ukraine’s aid, not Putin’s.

Coons worked as an intern in Biden’s Senate office in the 1990s and was elected to fill his former Senate seat in 2010. He was described by the New York Times as “Biden’s eyes and ears in the Senate,” while Politico called him “the Biden whisperer.” Media outlets called him a “shadow secretary of state” after the White House sent him on a diplomatic mission to Ethiopia last year.

Like Biden, Coons has previously spoken out against sending American forces to Ukraine. He seldom, if ever, contradicts Biden’s views, so his change of rhetoric raised concerns over what the commander-in-chief might be considering.

The senator’s latest comments come three days after he said the Biden administration and US lawmakers need to discuss parameters for troop deployments to Ukraine. Speaking at an event at the University of Michigan, he argued that if direct military involvement is ruled out, “we are inviting another level of escalation in brutality by Putin.”

We are coming right up against a Cuban missile crisis moment in terms of a direct confrontation between NATO, the United States, the West and Russia.

Coons added that “autocrats around the world” – from North Korea to Iran to China – are closely watching the US and NATO response to the Russia-Ukraine conflict. He also called the crisis a “1939 moment,” apparently alluding to Nazi Germany’s early conquests in Europe.

“At some point, we are going to have to confront the reality that Putin may be willing to escalate beyond our willingness to take risks,” Coons said. “And if we allow Ukraine to become the Syria of Eastern Europe, I think we will have failed both the Ukrainian people and this moment in history.”

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