Some lawmakers, part of a three-day bipartisan delegation, recommend cutting Russia off from financial markets if it invades Ukraine. Other lawmakers say the administration should focus on deterrence in the meantime, including making clear messages that “many Russian boys will die on day one” and providing Ukraine with a sufficiently large increase in costs. arms supplies to make the Russians think twice before invading anything.
“I have learned that we have an important window in the coming weeks to deter further Russian assaults, ranging from a limited incursion to a full-scale invasion,” Representative Seth Moulton told CNN, based on his comments. field conversations. . “The bottom line is that we need to focus more on preventing Russian action than responding to it.”
The Massachusetts Democrat and other House Armed Services Committee lawmakers met with U.S. partners in Kiev to assess the situation as Russian troops established a massive presence along the Ukrainian border and Russian President Vladimir Putin continued a series of appeals to world leaders – met with French President Emmanuel Macron and Finnish President Sauli NiinistÃ¶ on Tuesday following his Dec. 7 appeal with President Joe Biden – to reiterate his demand for guarantees that the The North Atlantic Treaty Organization will not extend to Ukraine or deploy weapons there.
The White House said Biden told Putin during the video call that the United States was ready to launch strong economic measures in the event of an invasion of Russia – signaling that the new measures would have a greater impact than the sanctions issued in 2014 which did not prevent Russia from occupying Crimea. Biden said he told the Russian leader that the repercussions of an invasion would be unlike anything Putin had never seen before.
Moulton told CNN on Tuesday he sent a note to the Biden administration urging it to take more proactive steps to prevent further Russian aggression.
The memo gives tactical details of what other US weapons should be supplied to Ukraine and how the forces should be deployed. Moulton said he is also urging administration officials to make their voices heard – with Putin and directly with the Russian people – about the cost and bloodshed of a Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Moulton was accompanied by Representative Salud Carbajal, a Democrat from California; Rep. Mike Waltz, a Republican from Florida; Rep. Joe Wilson, a Republican from South Carolina; and Representative Ruben Gallego, a Democrat from Arizona.
The lawmakers’ trip came as America’s top diplomat for Europe also visited Kiev and took the opportunity to challenge claims that the United States is pushing Ukraine to make concessions. to Russia.
“The idea that we would push Ukraine to make concessions in discussions and dialogue with Russia is pure disinformation and should be treated as such,” Deputy Secretary of State Karen Donfried said in a video message. recorded in Kiev and tweeted by the US Embassy on Tuesday. .
She said the message was shared with Ukrainian leaders and that “the truth” was that the allies of the United States, Ukraine and NATO were “united” in their efforts to continue diplomacy.
“We are committed to ensuring that no decision or discussion takes place on Ukraine without Ukraine,” Donfried said.
She said the United States had “listened carefully to the request of our Ukrainian colleagues, who called on the United States to engage more actively in diplomatic efforts to relaunch the peace process.”
Gallego told CNN’s Fredricka Whitfield in an interview in Kiev on Sunday that he believes that if Putin “has enough room,” the Russian leader “is ready to do something, whether it’s a month, two months or five away. months, or one in a year. “
Gallego said the delegation had obtained information from the trip which showed Russia intended “to influence and / or invade Ukraine at some point.” If so, the repercussions should be immediate and severe.
âGet them away from the US dollar so that they can’t trade anymore,â Gallego said, adding that for Russia to âinvest or sell they have to go into a secondary market, and if that ends up being the euro, we have to put pressure on that as well. ”
He added that in conjunction with economic sanctions, Ukraine should be given better weapons that “would jeopardize Russian troop movements and, you know, unfortunately, that means we have to kill Russians,” while doing so. reference to the Ukrainian army and special forces and not US forces. He reiterated that the Russians “only understand pure power, and we must give the Ukrainian army and special forces the ability to do so.”
House lawmakers led by Democratic Rep. Tom Malinowski of New Jersey wrote to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell urging Republicans to act quickly to advance FY2022 appropriation bills “in part because that this is necessary to unlock vital additional aid to Ukraine at a time when Russian forces are massing at its borders, threatening an invasion. “
Malinowski, Representative Steve Cohen of Tennessee and other Democrats told McConnell in a December 13 letter that “the administration is maximizing its ability to provide essential military equipment to Ukrainians in the face of Putin’s trick. administration could begin to do much more with the increase in assistance provided in the FY22 appropriation for Ukraine – assistance that would strengthen Ukraine’s ability to deter Russian aggression, to protect the flank Eastern NATO and send a vital message of support to the Ukrainian people. “
Moulton says the Biden administration needs to be more proactive with actions, not just words. “The administration clearly doesn’t want to provoke Putin, but it doesn’t care about provocations. He will fabricate one when he wants. We need to worry less about provoking Putin and more about dissuading him,” Moulton said.
Moulton also believes there is a need to make America’s intentions widely known, not only to Putin, but also to the Russian people.
âThe purchase of arms by the United States from Ukraine should change the objective of seeking to make a long-term conflict more costly to deter a conflict from never starting,â Moulton said. “We can do this by making the first day extremely expensive and communicating it. We must make it clear not only to Putin but to the Russian people that many Russian boys will die on the first day.”
CNN’s Sonnet Swire and Natasha Bertrand contributed to this report.