A GOP senator who sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee casually suggested that the US could enter a massive ground war with Russia in defence of Ukraine as Russian troops are massing near the country’s borders.
Sen Roger Wicker made the comments during an evening interview with Fox News host Neil Cavuto. He made clear that he was ruling out nothing as a possibility for use in defence of Ukraine’s sovereignty.
During his remarks, which echoed others he made on CNN, Mr Wicker said that US policy is to keep all options on the table when the potential for military conflict arises, including the use of nuclear weapons.
“Well, military action could mean that we stand off with our ships in the Black Sea and we rain destruction ... on Russia military capability. It could mean that we participate, and I would not rule that out, I would not rule out American troops on the ground. Do you know we don’t rule out first-use nuclear action,” Mr Wicker says.
A full clip of the interview was not immediately available. A representative for the senator’s office confirmed in a phone call with The Independent that the senator thought that President Joe Biden should not rule out the possibility of military action to defend Ukraine, though they cautioned that the remarks about nuclear weapons referred to US policy in general and not the Ukraine conflict specifically.
Russia has repeatedly denied that the buildup of its troops near Ukraine is preceding an invasion of the country. In 2014 Russia annexed the Ukrainian region of Crimea, while parts of the southeastern regions of Ukraine are now controlled by pro-Russian militant groups following fierce fighting in the Donbas region.
President Joe Biden and Russia’s Vladimir Putin spoke on the phone on Tuesday amid the rising tensions, and during the call Mr Biden threatened greater economic sanctions against Russia should the country’s military invade Ukraine. The president stopped short of pledging direct military aid to Ukraine’s government.
Russia has long criticised the actions of the US-back defence pact NATO, and on Tuesday the Kremlin again accused NATO of wanting to “conquer” Ukrainian territory, despite Ukraine’s own public efforts to join the pact.
Mr Wicker is one of the Senate’s loudest war hawks, and his remarks on Tuesday are not the first suggesting war with Russia.
In 2016 during one memorable hearing with former Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Gen Joseph Dunford, Mr Wicker questioned why the US could not unilaterally institute a no-fly zone across the entirety of Syria’s airspace, and was bluntly informed by the general that such a command would put the US at war with Russia, which operated military bases in the region.