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CEDAR RAPIDS — Sen. Joni Ernst is warning of a “domino effect” if Ukraine falls to Russian invaders.
“I do not believe that, that Vladimir Putin intends to stop with Ukraine,” the Iowa Republican said while making stops in Manchester and Independence on her annual 99-county tour.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine and threat Putin poses to its neighbors “is destabilizing Europe, and is threatening our own national security,” she said Tuesday.
“The mere fact that a free, democratic nation is being brought down, potentially, by an autocratic, murderous thug should be concerning to everyone,” Ernst said. “If it's a free-for-all, and he recognizes no boundaries, that means he likely won't stop.”
If successful in Ukraine, Putin may move on Moldova, a non-NATO country where there are as many as 1,500 Russian troops now, said Ernst, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Serbia has alliances with Russia and China. The prime minister of Kosovo worries if Ukraine falls, Serbia will invade with support from Russian and China.
“So this is not a one-off for Vladimir Putin,” she said.
Ernst is not advocating direct involvement in Ukraine, but believes Ukrainian can win with the appropriate support from the U.S. and NATO. However, she’s concerned that rather than providing what Ukraine is asking for, the U.S. and European nations are supplying what they think is best.
“Our people aren't on the ground there. The Ukrainian forces are on the ground and they know what they need,” said Ernst, a combat veteran. “So if we and our NATO partners have the ability to provide the means for them to win the war, we should be doing that.”
Ernst, who to The Gazette by phone later in the day, said she is also concerned about the war’s impact on food insecurity. Nearly 400 million people are dependent on Ukrainian and Russian food production. The planting and harvesting cycle likely will be interrupted by protracted fighting. Already the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization has reduced its global cereals trade estimate to 469 million tons, down 14.6 million tons from March.
Russia, Ernst said, is using food as a “quiet weapon” and is targeting Ukrainian agricultural production.
Ernst also met with employees at La Motte Telephone Company in Jackson County to discuss rural broadband, toured the Dubuque Millwork District, visited Allerton Brewing Company in Independence and met with law enforcement in Grundy County.
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