Senate Intel Chair Warner: US forces could be ‘in combat’ if Congress doesn't OK $61B in Ukraine aid

Warner suggested Russia might next go after Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Poland
Mark Warner

Democrat Sen. Mark Warner, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, is warning that U.S. forces could be “in combat” if Congress fails to pass $61 billion in aid to Ukraine.

"Ukrainians in two years have been really remarkable," Warner said on a press call Thursday. "They've literally destroyed 87%. Russia's pre-existing ground forces have either been killed or wounded or are basically out of the conflict, and now the world is waiting to see whether the United States is going to honor its commitment to Ukraine."

The Virginia lawmaker said he "fears" that if the U.S. doesn't pass additional war funding for Ukraine, Russia leader Vladimir Putin will win his war against Ukraine and move on to invade other countries.

"Not only will Putin win, but I fear that American troops could be in conflict within two to three years because Putin will not stop at Ukraine's border," he said. 

He argued that the U.S. must help Ukraine stop Putin's advance now or U.S. forces could be dragged into a conflict that could require boots on the ground.

"Those adjacent nations — Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Poland — are all members of NATO. We have a solemn treaty obligation to defend those nations, and we could have Americans in harm's way or in combat if we don't stop Putin now in Ukraine," he said. "We could have Americans in harm's way or in combat if we don't stop Putin now in Ukraine," Warner added.

The Senate passed a $95 billion foreign aid package that covers Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan and humanitarian efforts in Gaza. The House has not voted on the bill yet.

"I still believe there is over 300 votes in the House for this Ukraine aid and the sooner it is brought to the floor the better," Warner said. "The sooner the rest of the world realize that America is going to stand by its word."

Warner compared the present challenges in Ukraine to World War II.

"I think the comparisons to when the West turned a blind eye to Hitler's early aggression in Austria and Czechoslovakia. I think those are not overstatements in terms of the moment we are facing at this point, and the rest of the world is watching," he said.

"We have helped keep the peace for 70 years since the end of the second world war and if we were to walk away from our Ukrainian allies at this point, it will be a disaster," he added.

He also said a Putin victory in Ukraine would have consequences in the Middle East.

"If Putin wins, that gives more fodder for Iran to do more mischief in the Middle East. It will give more sense that Xi could take on [Taiwan]. I can't think of an issue that is more critical, that is more historic," Warner said.