Sen. Romney: Military buildup of Russia at Ukraine border is outrageous, troubling

Dec 8, 2021, 8:10 AM | Updated: 9:24 am
romney speaks about russia...
Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, speaks during a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations to examine U.S.-Russia policy with testimony from Victoria Nuland, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, on Capitol Hill, Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, Pool)
(AP Photo/Alex Brandon, Pool)

SALT LAKE CITY — Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, told Utah’s Morning News the buildup of tens of thousands of military troops on the border of Russia and Ukraine represents a hostile military act. In a new interview, he called it an example for the world to see that Russian President Vladimir Putin wishes to re-create “the old Soviet Union in a new way.”

Speaking on KSL NewsRadio Wednesday morning, Romney, who sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said the military buildup on Russia’s border with Ukraine poses a clear military threat.

Listen to the full interview below.

“It’s pretty clear that they intend either to replace the government and invade the country,” Romney said, “or they plan to create such a threat that they cause various nations, Ukraine and ourselves, to, if you will, pay them off somehow — not with money necessarily, but instead with, with guarantees that they’ve been seeking.”

Romney strikes sharp tone on Russia

In a telephone call on Tuesday, President Biden and President Putin agreed to appoint envoys. Those envoys will continue the conversation between the two nations. But the Associated Press quoted the Kremlin as saying they don’t know when the talks will happen.

Romney described President Biden’s proposed sanctions against Russia as substantial and said they amount to a new approach.

“They would basically freeze Russia’s access to financial markets and that’s not a tool we’ve used as a sanction in the past so it’s a pretty dramatic step.”

What proposed sanctions might look like

At a meeting of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday, Sen. Bob Mendez, D-N.J., chairman, described sanctions he wants to impose on Russia.

“The Russian banking sector would be wiped out. Sovereign debt would be blocked. Russia would be removed from the SWIFT payment system. Sectoral sanctions would cripple the Russian economy. Putin himself as well as his inner circle would lose access to bank accounts in the west. Russia would effectively be cut off and isolated from the international economic system,” Mendez said.

While acknowledging he cannot speak for the Russian president, Romney told KSL NewsRadio that Putin’s actions reflect concerns over a shrinking population and workforce in Russia. 

“And so he looks at his neighbors and says I’m going to grab them one by one,” Romney said.

“And I think he’s trying to reassemble a group of nations which he can have under his thumb, and try and re-establish Russia as a major power player. Because he sees China and the US getting stronger. And he’s relatively weaker.” 

Utah’s Morning News with Tim Hughes and Amanda Dickson airs weekday mornings from 5 to 9 a.m. on KSL NewsRadio 102.7 FM and 1160 AM. 

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Sen. Romney: Military buildup of Russia at Ukraine border is outrageous, troubling