Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) said in an interview that he did not support deploying U.S. troops into Ukraine in the event that Russia invades the former Soviet nation, saying “we would simply be sacrificing them.”
“I would not support sending American troops into Ukraine in response to a Russian invasion, because frankly, I think we would simply be sacrificing them. I think the Russians would escalate dramatically,” Coons told Greta Van Susteren in an interview set to air on Sunday.
“I do think that we should provide as much support as we possibly can from our NATO allies that are immediately adjacent to Ukraine.”
The Delaware Democrat, considered a close ally to President Biden and a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said that he was looking into bipartisan legislation that would “provide material support to Ukraine,” adding that it was something that the Biden administration was moving on.
Coons said that the Senate needed to act swiftly to put forward proposals on sanctions and “costs on Russia,” adding that they needed to be passed and signed by the president quickly.
The senator also defended the president after he made statements earlier this week during a nearly two-hour press conference in which he appeared to suggest that Russia would not face as severe consequences if it engaged in a “minor incursion” against Ukraine.
“It depends on what he does as to what extent we’re going to be able to get total unity on the NATO front,” the president said during the Wednesday press conference, referencing the allies of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
“I think what you’re going to see is that Russia will be held accountable if it invades, and it depends on what it does. It’s one thing if it’s a minor incursion and we end up having to fight about what to do and not to do,” Biden said.
The White House later rushed to clean up those comments amid backlash, underscoring that any military movement by Russia into Ukraine would count as an “invasion.”
“President Biden was in no way giving Vladimir Putin a green light to invade or occupy Ukraine, and Jen Psaki promptly made that clear. In conversations directly and in-person with Putin, he’s made that clear that any Russian crossing of the Ukrainian border will be responded to massively and swiftly,” Coons told Van Susteren.
“What I think it was referring to was that there is a disagreement with some of our allies about what minor actions by Russia count as an act of war,” he added.
Russia, for its part, has amassed a sizable military force on the border with Ukraine, an indicator that it may attempt to invade the former Soviet territory. A Ukrainian Defense Ministry intelligence assessment shared with CNN earlier this week said that over 127,000 troops have now been amassed in the region.
U.S. officials have warned that an invasion very likely but have stated they believe diplomatic efforts should be made first to deescalate the situation. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Russian officials in Europe to discuss the situation this week.
Biden himself has said that he would not send U.S. troops into Ukraine.
In December of 2021, he said, “We have a moral obligation and a legal obligation to our NATO allies if they were to attack under Article 5, it’s a sacred obligation. That obligation does not extend to … Ukraine.”