Rand Paul and Blinken spar over Putin invading countries that ‘were part of Russia’

Late. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) Pushed Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday over the risks of expanding the NATO military alliance, saying that Russia has in recent decades invaded countries that “were part of Russia. ”

At a hearing, Secretary of State Antony Blinken argued that Russia has not attacked NATO countries “probably for a good reason” given their collective strength against Russia. Paul then responded, “You could also argue the countries they’ve attacked were part of Russia.”

Blinken argued that it is the “fundamental right” of those countries, including Georgia and Ukraine, to decide their own future and independence.

Paul said, “I’m not saying it’s not” but then noted that the countries had been part of the Soviet Union for decades starting in the 1920s.

Paul did not defend Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine; however, Putin and his allies argue that Ukraine is not an independent country and that Russians and Ukrainians are “one people – a single whole,” which they cite to justify the war.

Though Zelensky pushed for Ukraine to be admitted as a member of NATO when the invasion began, he conceded the group’s unwillingness to put them on a fast track toward membership amid fear the move could escalate tensions with Russia.

“NATO is not prepared to accept Ukraine,” Zelensky told ABC News at the end of March.

Finland and Sweden have also reportedly committed to submitting NATO applications amid the war.

Paul pressed Blinken on Tuesday on the potential risks of Ukraine gaining NATO membership.

“Had they been or if they do become a part of NATO, that means US soldiers will be fighting in Ukraine, and that’s something I very much oppose,” Paul said at the beginning of the exchange.

“These are important conversations and arguments, but my judgment is different,” Blinken said.

Historically, Paul has been against the expansion of NATO. In 2017, Paul blocked a vote on a treaty for Montenegro to join NATO, causing late Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) To accuse him of “working for Vladimir Putin,” as Russia also opposed the move.

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