Santa Barbara congressman expresses support for sanctions during News-Press interview
Big explosions and artillery were heard Friday night as Russian and Ukrainian forces fought inside Kyiv.
“The fate of Ukraine is being decided right now,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a video produced on the streets of the capital city. He warned Friday night would be the hardest.
“This night the enemy will be using all available means to break our resistance,” President Zelensky said.
CNN reported fighting within the city limits but said it hadn’t reached the city’s center. The Ukrainian government said it stopped a Russian advancement on Peremohy Avenue.
CBS News reported Ukraine passed out 18,000 guns to its citizens, with the government stressing it couldn’t afford to lose its capital.
Kyiv officials are urging residents to stay home, but told them to prepare molotov cocktails in case Russian fighters get past defensive lines.
Ukrainian newscasts told viewers how to make molotov cocktails.
Ukraine has opened up its army for anyone who wants to join.
As explosions slammed Kyiv, people took cover in underground stations and shelters. The United Nations reported that more than 50,000 Ukrainian refugees have fled in 48 hours, most of them to Poland and Moldova.
After talking with NATO allies Friday, President Joe Biden praised the Ukranians for their resistance.
A senior defense official told NBC News that Russia is facing “greater resistance” from Ukranians than it may have expected.
On Friday, the Biden administration announced it was joining the European Union in directly sanctioning Russian President Vladimir Putin, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and others on the national security team in Russia.
Watching the events from Santa Barbara was U.S. Rep. Salud Carbajal, who plans to return to Washington, D.C., on Monday.
The Santa Barbara Democrat told the News-Press Friday morning that he has participated in a number of public and classified briefings via Zoom. “I was on one yesterday (Thursday) with Secretary of State (Antony) Blinken, Secretary of Defense (Lloyd) Austin), Secretary of Treasury (Janet) Yellen and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mark Milley.
‘What came out was a full assessment of what’s transpiring,” Rep. Carbjal said.
He said the briefings showed U.S. intelligence about Russia and its intentions “was spot on.”
“Keep in mind that this is an unprovoked aggression against a democracy by Putin, who’s acting like a bully,” Rep. Carbajal said. “It’s going to create a significant loss of life in a humanitarian crisis.”
Rep. Carbajal told the News-Press that he supports a continued expansion of economic sanctions.
“We need to continue to look at how to press the screws on Russia to make sure they are paying the costs for this unprovoked action against this democracy,” Rep. Carbajal said. “We also need to continue to make sure in Congress that we pass legislation in the next week or two for security assistance and humanitarian assistance (to Ukraine).”
The congressman agreed with President Biden’s decision against sending U.S. troops into Ukraine and noted he favors continuing to send Ukraine military support and technological tools to fight cyber attacks.
Rep. Carbajal said it’s important to make President Putin realize his invasion “was an ill-conceived decision and to help the Russian people understand their leader has gone amuck and created a needless crisis for Ukraine and the Russian people.
“We’ve already seen the protests in Russia,” the congressman noted. “They’ve started to acknowledge that they have a leader who is running amuck.”
In fact, the protests in Russia against the invasion have maintained their momentum. On Friday, 1,800 protesters were arrested.
When asked if Ukraine should have been admitted into NATO in 2014 as a deterrence to Russia after it annexed Crimea, Rep. Carbajal said, “There’s always will be ‘could have, would have, should have.’”
The congressman noted, “There’s a process in which countries are admitted into NATO,” but added “perhaps” Ukraine should have been allowed into the alliance.
Under NATO’s Article 5, the alliance’s members would have been obligated to fight Russia if Ukraine had been a member.
“All we can do is look forward and look at the circumstances today,” Rep. Carbajal said.
The congressman said Ukraine will need aid in the form of food and medicine.
A refugee crisis is developing.
“Most of the refugees are expected to go into Poland, Romania and a few of the (other) surrounding countries,” Rep. Carbajal said.
In terms of the economic impact posed by Russia, one of the world’s largest oil and gas producers, the congressman noted the Biden administration is looking at its strategic petroleum reserves.
“Russia no doubt will affect the global prices,” he said, explaining releasing the reserves could help to keep prices down at the pumps.
Rep. Carbajal said he believes the economic sanctions against Russia will prove effective.
“The question is how effective,” he said. “We have an aggressor who clearly is misguided and is acting irrationally.”
While most sanctions target Russian oligarchs, the Russian economy will suffer as well, Rep. Carbajal said. He added that the question is how long and to what extent is President Putin willing to accept that damage to his economy.
“He couldn’t bear the thought of the former Soviet Union breaking up,” the congressman said. “He has this wild fantasy. He wants to reunite some of these regions, which have become independent and are their own democracies. It’s unfortunate.
“This is an unprovoked aggression against the free and democratic people in Ukraine.”