[Congressional Record Volume 168, Number 27 (Thursday, February 10, 2022)]
[Pages S632-S636]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]


  Mr. SANDERS. Mr. President, before I begin, I would like to ask 
unanimous consent to put into the Congressional Record an open letter 
to the Russian leadership from the Russian Congress of Intellectuals, 
who state:

       Our position is simple: Russia does not need a war with 
     Ukraine and the West. Such a war is devoid of legitimacy and 
     has no moral basis.

  This is a very brave statement made by Russian intellectuals.
  There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in 
the Record, as follows:

           [From the New York Review of Books, Feb. 4, 2022]

                An Open Letter to the Russian Leadership

                   russian congress of intellectuals

       Our position is simple: Russia does not need a war with 
     Ukraine and the West. Such a war is devoid of legitimacy and 
     has no moral basis.
       There is an ever-increasing flow of alarming news about a 
     possible Russian invasion of Ukraine. Reports are emerging 
     about stepped-up recruitment of mercenaries within Russia and 
     the transfer of fuel and military equipment to Ukraine's 
     Donetsk and Luhansk regions. In response, Ukraine is arming 
     itself and NA TO is sending additional forces into Eastern 
     Europe. The tension is not abating, but rather mounting.
       Russian citizens are becoming de facto hostages of a 
     reckless adventurism that has come to typify Russia's foreign 
     policy. Not only must Russians live with the uncertainty of 
     whether a large-scale war will begin, but they are also 
     experiencing a sharp rise in prices and a devaluation of 
     their currency. Is this the sort of policy Russians need? Do 
     they want war--and are they ready to bear the brunt of it? 
     Have they authorized the authorities to play with their lives 
     in this way?
       But no one asks Russian citizens for their opinion. There 
     is no public debate. State television presents only a single 
     viewpoint--that of the warmongers. Direct military threats, 
     aggression and hatred are aimed at Ukraine, the US, and the 
     West. But the most dangerous thing is that the war is being 
     depicted not only as permissible, but as inevitable. This is 
     an attempt to deceive the population, to impose upon them the 
     idea of waging a crusade against the West, rather than 
     investing in the country's development and improving living 
     standards. The cost of the conflict is never discussed, but 
     the price--the huge, bloody price--will be paid by the common 
     Russian people.
       We, responsible citizens and patriots of Russia, appeal to 
     Russia's political leadership. We openly and publicly call 
     out the Party of War that has been formed within the 
       We represent the viewpoint of those in Russian society who 
     reject war, who consider unlawful the use of military threats 
     and the deployment of a blackmailing style in foreign policy.
       We reject war, whereas you, the Party of War, consider it 
     acceptable. We stand for peace and prosperity for all Russian 
     citizens, whereas you put our lives on the line for the sake 
     of political games. You deceive and manipulate people, 
     whereas we tell them the truth. You do not speak in the name 
     of the Russian population--we do. For decades, the Russian 
     people, who lost millions of lives in past wars, have lived 
     by the saying: ``if only there were no war.'' Have you 
     forgotten this?
       Our position is quite simple. Russia does not need a war 
     with Ukraine and the West. No one is threatening us, no one 
     is attacking us. Policies based on the idea of such a war are 
     immoral and irresponsible and must not be conducted in the 
     name of the Russian people. Such a war is devoid of 
     legitimacy and has no moral basis. Russian diplomacy should 
     take no other position than a categorical rejection of such a 
       Not only does such a war not reflect Russia's interests, 
     but it also threatens the country's very existence. The 
     senseless actions of the country's political leadership, 
     which is pushing us in this direction, will inevitably lead 
     to a mass anti-war movement in Russia. Each of us will 
     naturally play a part in it.
       We will do everything in our power to prevent this war, and 
     if it begins, to stop it.
       Lev Ponomaryov, human rights activist; Valery Borshchev, 
     human rights activist; Svetlana Gannushkina, human rights 
     activist; Leonid Gozman, politician; Liya Akhedzhakova, 
     actress and People's Artist of the Russian Federation; Andrey 
     Makarevich, musician; Garri Bardin, director; Viktor 
     Shenderovich, writer; Tatiana Lazareva, TV presenter; Andrey 
     Zubov, historian and politician; Andrey Nechaev, politician; 
     Alina Vitukhnovskaya, writer; Alexander Belavin, physicist; 
     Nikolai Rozanov, corresponding member of the Russian Academy 
     of Sciences.
       Natalia Evdokimova, executive secretary of the Human Rights 
     Council of St. Petersburg; Efim Khazanov, academician of the 
     Russian Academy of Sciences; Hya Ginzburg, physicist and 
     professor; Zoya Svetova, journalist; Grigory Yavlinsky, 
     politician; Lev Shlosberg, politician; Boris Vishnevsky, 
     politician; Lev Gudkov, sociologist and professor; Igor 
     Chubais, philosopher; Tatyana Voltskaya, poet and journalist; 
     Boris Sokolov, historian and writer; Mikhail Krieger, civic 
     activist; Veronika Dolina, poet; Vladimir Mirzoev, director; 
     Ksenia Larina, journalist.
       Andrey Piontkovsky, publicist; Mark Urnov, professor, 
     National Research University Higher School of Economics; 
     Mikhail Lavrenov, writer; Nikolai Prokudin, writer; Elena 
     Fanailova, poet and journalist; Grigory Mikhnov-Vaytenko, 
     clergyman; Lev Levinson, human rights activist; Sergei 
     Germann, member of the Writer's Union of Russia; Vladimir 
     Alex, civil activist; Yuri Gimmelfarb, journalist; Yuri 
     Samodurov, human rights activist; Evgeniy Tsymbal, civil 
     activist; Vitaly Dixon, writer; Natalya Mavlevich, 
     translator; Ashraf Fattakhov, lawyer.
       Viktor Yunak, writer; Valeria Prikhodkina, human rights 
     activist; Elena Grigorieva, children's poet; Vera 
     Shabelnikova, editor; Mair Makhaev, philosopher and linguist; 
     Grigory Amnuel, producer, director, publicist, and 
     politician. Sergei Krivenko, human rights activist;

[[Page S633]]

     Yaroslav Nikitenko, environmental and civil activist and 
     scientist; Tatyana Yankelevich Bonner, human rights activist; 
     Nikita Sokolov, historian; Anatoly Golubovsky, historian; 
     Nikolai Rekubratsky, researcher; Vitold Abankin, human rights 
     activist; Elena Bukvareva, doctor of biological sciences; 
     Igor Toporkov, human rights activist; Evgeniy Kalakin, 
       Liudmila Alpern, human rights activist; Nina Caterly, 
     writer; Vladimir Zalishchak, municipal deputy; Olga Mazurova, 
     doctor; Oleg Motkov, director; Natalya Pakhsaryan, professor 
     at Moscow State University; Elena Volkova, philologist and 
     culturologist; Valery Otstavnykh, director and journalist; 
     Georgy Karetnikov, civil activist; Marina Boroditskaya, 
     writer; Sergey Lutsenko, animation supervisor; Alexey Diveev, 
     programmer; Tatyana Vorozheykina, lecturer at the Free 
     University of Moscow; Tatyana Kotlyar, human rights activist.
       Anatoly Barmin, pharmacist; Valentin Skvortsov, professor 
     at Moscow State University; Lev Ingel, physicist; Mikhail 
     Mints, historian; Leonid Chubarov, professor; Katya-Anna 
     Taguti, artist; Elena Efros, civil activist; Anna Shapiro, 
     director; Tatyana Dorutina, member of the Human Rights 
     Council of St. Petersburg; Arkady Konikov, programmer; Sergei 
     Pechenkin, civil activist; Anatoly Razumov, historian; 
     Alexander Sannikov, colonel of the Russian Armed Forces 
     (ret'd); Anatoly Tsirlin, professor; Karen Hakobyan, 

  Mr. SANDERS. Mr. President, as I speak today Europe, for the first 
time in almost 80 years, is faced with the threat of a major invasion. 
A large nation threatens a smaller, less powerful neighbor, surrounding 
it on three sides with well over 100,000 troops as well as tanks and 
  My colleagues, as we have painfully learned, wars have unintended 
consequences. They rarely turn out the way the planners and experts 
tell us they will. Just ask the officials who provided rosy scenarios 
for the wars in Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq, only to be proven 
horribly wrong. Just ask the mothers of the soldiers who were killed or 
wounded in action during those wars. Just ask the families of the 
millions of civilians who became collateral damage in those wars.
  The war in Vietnam cost us 59,000 American deaths and many others who 
came home wounded in body and spirit. The casualties in Vietnam, Laos, 
and Cambodia are almost incalculable, but they were in the millions. In 
Afghanistan, what began as a response to the horrific attack against us 
on 9-11-2001 eventually became a 20-year war, costing us $2 trillion 
and over 3,500 Americans who were killed, not to mention tens of 
thousands of Afghan civilians.
  George W. Bush claimed in 2003 that the United States had ``put the 
Taliban out of business forever.'' Well, not quite the case--the 
Taliban is in power today.
  The war in Iraq, which was sold to the American people by stroking 
fear of a mushroom cloud from Iraq's nonexistent weapons of mass 
destruction, led to the deaths of some 4,500 U.S. troops and the 
wounding--physical and emotional--of tens of thousands of others. It 
led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, the displacement 
of over 5 million people, and regional destabilization whose 
consequences the world continues to grapple with today.
  In other words, despite all of the rosy scenarios we heard for those 
foreign policy and military interventions, it turned out that the 
experts were wrong and millions of innocent people paid the price. That 
is why we must do everything possible to find a diplomatic resolution 
to prevent what would be an enormously destructive war in Ukraine.
  No one knows exactly what the human costs of such a war would be. 
There are estimates, however, that come from our own military and 
intelligence community that there could be over 50,000 civilian 
casualties in Ukraine, not to mention millions of refugees flooding 
neighboring countries as they flee what could be the worst European 
conflict since World War II.
  In addition, of course, there would be many thousands of deaths 
within the Ukrainian and Russian militaries. There is also the 
possibility that this regional war could escalate to other parts of 
Europe, a continent with many nuclear weapons, and what might happen 
then is beyond imagination.
  But that is not all. The sanctions against Russia that would be 
imposed as a consequence of its actions and Russia's threatened 
response to those sanctions could result in massive economic upheaval 
with impacts on energy and gas and oil prices in our country, banking, 
food supplies, and the day-to-day needs of ordinary people throughout 
the entire world. It is likely that Russians will not be the only 
people suffering from sanctions. They would be felt throughout Europe. 
They would be felt right here in the United States and likely around 
the world.
  And by the way--and we haven't discussed this terribly much--at a 
time when the scientific community tells us that climate change is an 
existential threat to the planet, any hope of international cooperation 
to address global climate change and to address future pandemics would 
likely suffer a major setback.
  It should be absolutely clear about who is most responsible for the 
looming crisis, and that is Russian President Vladimir Putin. Having 
already seized parts of Ukraine in 2014, Putin now threatens to 
take over the entire country and destroy Ukrainian democracy. There 
should be no disagreement that that behavior is totally unacceptable. 
In my view, we must unequivocally support the sovereignty of Ukraine 
and make clear that the international community will impose severe 
consequences on Putin and his fellow oligarchs if he does not change 

  With that said, I am extremely concerned when I hear the familiar 
drumbeats in Washington--the bellicose rhetoric that gets amplified 
before every war--demanding that we must show strength, demanding that 
we must get tough, demanding that we must not engage in appeasement.
  A simplistic refusal to recognize the complex roots of the tensions 
in the region undermines the ability of negotiators to reach a peaceful 
  Now, I know it is not very popular or politically correct, I guess, 
in Washington, to consider the perspectives of our adversaries, but I 
think it is important that we do so if we are going to formulate good 
policy. I think it is helpful to consider this. One of the 
precipitating factors of this crisis--one, not the only one--at least 
from Russia's perspective, is the prospect of an enhanced security 
relationship between Ukraine and the United States and Western Europe, 
including what Russia sees as the threat of Ukraine joining the North 
Atlantic Treaty Organization, NATO, a military alliance originally 
created in 1949 to confront the Soviet Union.
  It is good to know some history.
  When Ukraine became independent after the Soviet Union collapsed in 
1991, Russian leaders made clear their concerns about the prospect of 
former Soviet states becoming part of NATO and positioning hostile 
military forces along Russia's border. U.S. officials recognized these 
concerns as legitimate at the time. One of those officials was William 
Perry, who served as Defense Secretary under President Bill Clinton. In 
a 2017 interview, Perry said:

       In the last few years, most of the blame can be pointed at 
     the actions that Putin has taken. But in the early years I 
     have to say that the United States deserves much of the 


       Our first action that really set us off in a bad direction 
     was when NATO started to expand, bringing in eastern European 
     nations, some of them bordering Russia.

  That is former Secretary of State William Perry.
  Another U.S. official who acknowledged these concerns is former U.S. 
Diplomat Bill Burns, who is now head of the CIA in the Biden 
administration. In his memoir, Burns quotes a memo he wrote while 
serving as counselor for political affairs at the U.S. Embassy in 
Moscow in 1995.

       Hostility to early NATO expansion is almost universally 
     felt across the domestic political spectrum here.

  Over 10 years later, in 2008, Burns wrote in a memo to Secretary of 
State Condoleezza Rice:

       Ukrainian entry into NATO is the brightest of all redlines 
     for the Russian elite (not just Putin). In more than two and 
     a half years of conversations with key Russian players . . . 
     I have yet to find anyone who views Ukraine in NATO as 
     anything other than a direct challenge to Russian interests.

  So, again, these concerns were not just invented yesterday by Putin 
out of thin air. Clearly, invasion by Russia is not an answer, neither 
is intransigence by NATO. It is important to recognize, for example, 
that Finland, one of the most developed and democratic countries in the 
world, borders Russia and has chosen not to be a member of NATO. Sweden 
and Austria are other

[[Page S634]]

examples of prosperous and democratic countries that have made the same 
  Vladimir Putin may be a liar and a demagogue, but it is hypocritical 
for the United States to insist that we as a nation do not accept the 
principle of spheres of influence. For the last 200 years, our country 
has operated under the Monroe Doctrine, embracing the principle that as 
the dominant power in the Western Hemisphere, the United States has the 
right--according to the United States--to intervene against any country 
that might threaten our alleged interests. That is U.S. policy. And 
under this doctrine, the United States has undermined and overthrown at 
least a dozen countries throughout Latin America, Central America, and 
the Caribbean.
  As many might recall, in 1962, we came to the brink of nuclear war 
with the Soviet Union. Now, why was that? Why did we almost come to the 
brink of nuclear war with the Soviet Union?
  Well, we did that in response to the placement of Soviet missiles in 
Cuba, 90 miles from our shore, and the Kennedy administration saw that 
as an unacceptable threat to national security. We said it is 
unacceptable for a hostile country to have a significant military 
presence 90 miles away from our shore.
  Let us be clear. The Monroe Doctrine is not ancient history. As 
recently as 2018, Donald Trump's Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, 
called the Monroe Doctrine ``as relevant today as it was the day it was 
  In 2019, former Trump National Security Advisor, John Bolton, 
declared ``the Monroe Doctrine is alive and well.''
  To put it simply, even if Russia were not ruled by a corrupt, 
oligarchic, authoritarian leader like Vladimir Putin, Russia, like the 
United States, would still have an interest in the security policies of 
its neighbors.
  I want people to think about this: Does anyone really believe that 
the United States would not have something to say, if, for example, 
Mexico or Cuba or any country in Central or Latin America were to form 
a military alliance with a U.S. adversary?
  Do you think that Members of Congress would stand up and say, ``Well, 
you know, Mexico is an independent country. They have the right to do 
anything they want''? I doubt that very much.
  Countries should be free to make their own foreign policy choices, 
but making those choices wisely requires a serious consideration of the 
costs and benefits. The fact is that the United States and Ukraine 
entering into a deeper security relationship is likely to have some 
very serious costs for both countries.
  I believe that we must vigorously support the ongoing diplomatic 
efforts of the Biden administration to deescalate this crisis. I 
believe we must reaffirm Ukrainian independence and sovereignty and 
that we must make clear to Putin and his gang of oligarchs that they 
will face major consequences should they continue down their current 
  My colleagues, we must never forget the horrors that a war in the 
region would cause, and we must do everything possible to achieve a 
realistic and mutually agreeable resolution, one that is acceptable to 
Ukraine, Russia, the United States, and our European allies and that 
prevents what could be the worst European war since World War II. That 
approach is not weakness; it is not appeasement. Bringing people 
together to resolve conflicts without war is strength, and it is the 
right thing to do.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The majority whip.
  Mr. DURBIN. Mr. President, I have listened carefully to the remarks 
of my friend and colleague, Senator Sanders of Vermont. I read his 
published article in the Guardian newspaper yesterday, and it 
paralleled many of the things which he said on the floor today.
  We have a very positive starting point between us. I think my record 
on voting to go to war may be identical to his, if not very close. 
Neither of us wants war--that is the last resort--and it is frightfully 
predictable that there will be innocent people killed, even in the best 
of times and in the best of military force.
  Secondly, I couldn't agree with the Senator more that we should be 
promoting all that we can in terms of diplomacy at this moment. The 
other night, I had the opportunity to be in a meeting with some 
Senators and with the new Chancellor of Germany, Chancellor Scholz. He 
was on his way, soon, to Moscow; President Macron of France has been 
there; and others are going. I encourage that communication, that 
dialogue, as much as possible. I think it is hopeful that these efforts 
can lead to a peaceful resolution in the controversy that we are now 
facing in Ukraine.
  The third point, which I agree with, is that it is certainly in the 
interest of the United States, for our values, to make it clear that we 
want to protect and defend--at least not in a military fashion but, let 
me say, in a general fashion--the notion of sovereignty when it comes 
to Ukraine. It is up to the Ukrainian people to chart their course and 
make their future.
  Where I think we disagree, Senator, is on this whole question of 
sphere of influence. I am afraid that that suggestion is the green 
light for Vladimir Putin. If you will concede that he is somehow 
entitled because of the size of his country to reclaim Soviet Republics 
or to move into other theaters, I am sorry, but I have to part company 
with you at that point.
  I was fortunate enough, 30 years ago or so, to be on the ground in 
the Baltics when I saw a dramatic demonstration of courage rarely seen 
in the world. This tiny nation of 3 million people broke away from the 
Soviet Union and scheduled a free election. I was there at the time the 
election took place, and we knew that it was an invitation for Mikhail 
Gorbachev to retaliate, and he did. He moved in the Soviet tanks and 
started killing innocent people. Before it was all over, more than a 
dozen innocent Lithuanians--and several in Latvia--had given their 
lives because they wanted to be free again. And who would question why 
they would want that?
  I happened to have visited that area--my mother was born in 
Lithuania; I must put that on the record--in 1978, and I saw what life 
was like in the Baltic States under Soviet rule. It was sad. It was 
enraging. It was disgusting. What they have done in the Soviet Union is 
to forcibly take those countries and others--some through the Warsaw 
Pact, some through the direct accession to the Soviet Union--and 
control every aspect of their lives with communism.
  I went to the University of Vilnius, which I believe dates back to 
the 16th century. They took me to their Catholic chapel, which, under 
Soviet times, had been converted into what they called a museum in 
tribute of atheism. On display in the middle of this former chapel 
setting were showcases of boomerangs from Australia in this holy space, 
in which they were trying to eradicate religion by demonstrating a new 
materiel approach to the entity.
  I only say this because, when the time came and they finally, through 
their courage, broke from the Soviet Union, Lithuania, Latvia, and 
Estonia came to me, knowing that I had an interest in the region, as 
did the Polish people, and said: We don't want to be under the thumb of 
Russia ever again. We want our freedom. We want to decide our future. 
The only way that we can achieve that is if we can ally with the United 
States. Can we be considered for NATO membership?
  Eventually, through a lot of hard work and determination, that is 
what occurred. Poland and the Baltic States, along with others, joined 
in the NATO alliance.
  It is worth noting here that the NATO alliance is a defensive 
alliance. The Suwalki Gap, which links Russia as it now exists in 
Kaliningrad with Belarus, is a gap, a land bridge, and on either side 
is Poland and Lithuania. It is still contested territory by the 
Russians, and they are concerned about it. When the Russians put tens 
of thousands of troops and military exercises on the Baltic border in 
Belarus, it is understandable they are concerned. They are small 
countries that could be easily pushed over. The only thing that saves 
them, I believe, is their NATO alliance.
  Should Ukraine be part of the NATO alliance? Well, there are two 
decisions that must be made, and the first and most important one is by 
the Ukrainian people. They have to decide if they believe that it is in 
their best interest

[[Page S635]]

for their future. We cannot decide it for them nor should we try to.
  Secondly, the NATO alliance has to decide. Under article V, are we 
willing to risk the lives of the NATO allies if some terrible event 
should occur in Ukraine?
  That is what the sovereign nations of Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, 
Estonia, and so many other countries did when they decided to ask for 
membership in NATO.
  I don't understand this theory of the Senator's that, somehow, 
Vladimir Putin is entitled to a sphere of influence or control. That, 
to me, is unacceptable and inconsistent with the notion of Ukrainian 
sovereignty. If they are to decide their future, how can we say that 
Vladimir Putin has any voice in that process?
  There is a way that he can find a more peaceful situation in the 
world, and that is if he will stop being a thug and stop sending his 
troops to the borders of countries and stop cutting off gas supplies to 
countries that he doesn't like.
  I mean, his strong-arm tactics deserve a response from the United 
States, and I am afraid simply sending him a harsh letter is not enough 
anymore. So we have made it clear that he will pay a price if he 
invades, the NATO alliance has. The price will be a string of 
sanctions, and we have included some of them in the legislation that 
Senator Menendez is working on, which I cosponsored. But that is the 
only way to make it clear to him that such a price will be paid.
  What he has done is very obvious to me. He has united the NATO 
alliance in a way we didn't expect. There were some divisions within 
the alliance--some serious and some not serious--but he has brought us 
together. And we should be together in standing in defense of the 
territory of the NATO allies and in making it clear that if Vladimir 
Putin is going to try to extend his reach into Ukraine or into any 
other area, he will at least meet with political resistance.
  I think, at a minimum, that is where it should be. I hope it doesn't 
go any further. I share the Senator's feeling on that. I don't want the 
military situation to escalate or to threaten American lives or to 
involve us at that level at all, but unless we are firm with him now 
and don't concede that he has any sphere of influence in Ukraine, I am 
afraid he will take advantage of the situation.
  I am open to a question if you have one. I would like to have a 
dialogue, if possible, on this through the Chair, of course.
  Mr. SANDERS. I appreciate the thoughts of my friend from Illinois. 
With much of what he said, I, obviously, agree. My father came from 
Poland as a matter of fact.
  I think, maybe, the difference of opinion that we have has something 
to do with what we don't talk about very often openly but that, I 
think, everybody knows exists.
  I mentioned--and I think you will not disagree with me--that, over 
the last many, many decades, the United States has overthrown 
governments throughout Latin America, Central America, and the 
Caribbean. There is no denying that we almost went to a nuclear war in 
1962 under the Kennedy administration, which felt--and probably 
correctly--that Soviet missiles in Cuba, 90 miles away from us, were a 
threat to this country and not to be tolerated.
  So I would only ask my friend from Illinois to put himself into the 
mindset of the Russians in that nobody here--not I, certainly--is ever 
talking about reclaiming other countries. You mentioned that, and it is 
certainly not anything that I support.
  But if the United States has a right to overthrow countries 
throughout Latin America to protect our so-called interests and if 
there would be an uproar in this Chamber, perhaps from you and me as 
well, if Mexico, which is an independent nation, decided to form a 
military alliance with China or Russia, and people were to say you 
can't do that, should we not put ourselves a little bit in Russia's 
position in understanding that if we consider Latin America and Central 
America and the Caribbean to be within our sphere of influence and have 
the right to intervene, that Russia itself might have some legitimate 
concerns about military forces 5 miles from their border? That is the 
question I would pose.
  Mr. DURBIN. It is a legitimate historic question.
  But if you are saying that in the name of the Monroe Doctrine, to 
protect ourselves in this hemisphere we have done things which we are 
not proud of today, interfering with the sovereignty of nations--the 
term ``banana republic'' emerged from that Monroe Doctrine.
  And what happened in many of these countries is that they became 
vassals of the U.S. economy, and I don't say that with any pride. We 
wouldn't want to welcome that to happen in Europe, would we, I mean, 
Putin invading some sphere of influence and the sovereignty of other 
  Mr. SANDERS. No, we would not. But my point is, the Monroe Doctrine 
remains in existence today. It is not just history.
  You and I can agree that maybe the United States should not have 
overthrown governments over the years. The Monroe Doctrine exists 
today. Two years ago, the Secretary of State said it is in existence. I 
don't know how many people in this Chamber would tell you that it does 
not exist today.
  I use that example, to my friend from Illinois--if Mexico were to 
enter into an alliance with China, would my friend say: Well, Mexico is 
an independent country; they have the right to do anything they want.
  Mr. DURBIN. I think that hypothetical is just that. Of course, it is 
only a hypothetical. But look at the reality. It wasn't that long ago 
when Ecuador elected a new President. At the inauguration of that 
President were representatives of Russia, Cuba, and Iran. Now, you 
wouldn't put any of those countries today on a list of close American 
allies. And yet did we invade Ecuador? Never considered it. Never 
considered it.
  We live in a different time in the 21st century. I understand the 
Monroe Doctrine and the days of gunboat diplomacy and the days of 
moving a handful of troops in to take control back on the Dominican 
Republic. But to posit the notion that somehow there is going to be a 
military alliance on the border of the United States, therefore Putin 
is able to compromise the sovereignty of Ukraine, that doesn't follow, 
  Mr. SANDERS. No, it does.
  All that I am saying is, 2 years ago, the Secretary of State of the 
United States of America said the Monroe Doctrine is alive and well.
  Yes, of course, it is hypothetical. I do not believe that Mexico is 
going to enter into an alliance with China. But all I ask is to put 
what is going on in Russia into a context and to look at American 
policy and history as well. This is a complicated issue, and I think it 
is important for us to at least look at the concerns that Russia has.
  There is no disagreement that if Putin were to commit the horrible, 
horrible blunder of invading Ukraine, count me in as somebody who will 
go as far as we can to make sure there are real consequences against 
the oligarchs and that policy. But I do think if we are going to reach 
a settlement in a very complicated issue, it is important for us to 
understand a little bit about Russia's concerns.
  Mr. DURBIN. I would only disagree in this respect: I believe Ukraine 
has been a victim of Russian aggression for a long period of time. The 
leader Yanukovych who was deposed in Ukraine when the Maidan 
demonstrations took place was clearly a servant and vassal of Moscow.
  I believe it was the Russians who invaded Crimea and reclaimed that 
territory for their own. It was the Russians who sent in little green 
men with no symbols or emblems on their uniforms to invade eastern 
Ukraine and continued to kill innocent Ukrainians for 8 years now. So 
it is clear to me that Ukraine has been a victim of Russian aggression 
for a long period of time.
  To suggest the notion that this is somehow within Putin's sphere of 
influence is to rationalize Putin's conduct, to forgive his conduct. 
And I am not about to do that. I don't think we should.
  You don't put 110,000 Russian troops on the border and prepare for 
war unless you believe you can pressure that country into acceding to 
your demands. Ukraine is not a military power. It won't last very long, 
sadly, if the Russians do invade. But at this moment saying spheres of 
influence, that the United States has made its own

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mistakes in the past in the name of sphere of influence and therefore 
we should look the other way at what Putin is doing is just 
  Mr. SANDERS. The Senator knows I am not for looking the other way. 
That is not a fair statement. As I have said many, many times, I am 
strongly supportive of major, major, major consequences if Putin 
invades Ukraine, and we have got to do everything we can to protect 
Ukrainian sovereignty.
  All right, I have made my point.
  Mr. DURBIN. And I thank you for it.
  And I just want to close by saying that there is a--I see the Senator 
is waiting to speak. I close by saying that I hope very soon, in the 
next couple of weeks, to make a trip to Poland and to the Baltics.
  And I will tell you that the people of Polish descent and Ukrainian 
descent and Baltic descent in the State that I represent are watching 
these events by the day. They lived through the Soviet takeover of 
their countries. They understand what happened to their basic freedoms 
of speech and political expression and religious belief as a result of 
it. They don't want to return to those days.
  The United States has said we are committed to their democracy and 
their values, and I think we have demonstrated it, and we should 
continue to.
  I sincerely hope Putin does not take advantage of the situation and 
invade Ukraine. I am not calling for a military response, but we should 
have a type of response that he will never forget if he does something 
that foolhardy.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Pennsylvania.
  Mr. TOOMEY. Mr. President, I just feel the need to just make a simple 
point, although it should be obvious. But let me just state to be clear 
that what we are witnessing in the Russian buildup at the Ukrainian 
border has nothing to do with Russian security. There is no Russian 
security interests at stake here. There is no threat to Russian 
security. Ukrainians could not mount a credible attack on Russia if 
they wanted to, and they don't want to. What this is all about entirely 
is an authoritarian leader of Russia who wants to reestablish hegemony 
over the states of the former Soviet Union. He wants to reestablish the 
Russian Empire. It has nothing do with any legitimate concerns that 
Russia has.
  I strongly feel that if he makes the outrageous mistake of invading 
Ukraine, that we will use the many very, very powerful tools at our 
disposal to ensure that he regrets that decision.