One GOP lawmaker is trying to make it easier for the president to respond to Russia with force if troops in Ukraine use nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons.
Rep. Adam Kinzinger introduced an authorized use of military force to Congress on Sunday, easing the path for the United States to intervene in the war in Ukraine.
“I don’t think we need to be using force in Ukraine right now,” Kinzinger told Margaret Brennan on CBS's Face the Nation Sunday. “But I just introduced an AUMF, an authorization for the use of military force, giving the president basically congressional leverage or permission to do it if WMDs, nuclear, or biological or chemical weapons are used in Ukraine.”
Kinzinger described the AUMF as a “deterrent” to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Putin, Kinzinger warned, can easily “escalate” with the West if he wants to.
The Illinois Republican touted the aid and support the U.S. has provided for Ukraine and suggested that Congress won’t have any trouble approving the $33 billion bill President Joe Biden requested late last week.
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Despite that aid, Kinzinger warned there might come a time when countries need to take a more active approach to pushing back against Russia’s aggression in Eastern Europe.
“Prior to World War II, there were moments nobody ever wanted to get involved and eventually came to realize they had to,” he said. “I hope we don’t get to that point here, but we should be ready if we do.”
The U.S. has maintained there is no intelligence to suggest that Russia is preparing to use nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons in Ukraine. However, top Pentagon officials are receiving several updates each week about Russia’s nuclear movements, and last month, the CIA director said the U.S. is not taking Russia’s nuclear threats “lightly.”
Russia has stepped up its nuclear rhetoric in recent weeks as its offensive continues to meet stiff resistance.
Secretary of the Russian Security Council Nikolai Patrushev tried to sound the alarm last week that Ukraine is “saturated” with weapons of mass destruction, which “poses a threat to Russia." Patrushev’s comments came days after Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the threat of nuclear war was “considerable.”
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The International Atomic Energy Agency said there is no evidence Ukraine is developing nuclear weapons, according to Fox News.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has said he does not believe the war will result in Russia using nuclear weapons.