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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Wednesday that President Biden should deploy additional US military forces to Eastern Europe and expand his travels next week to go “beyond” Brussels, while blaming Russian President Vladimir Putin for rising inflation in the United States. “total nonsense.”
During a speech in the Senate on Wednesday morning, just hours after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s virtual address to Congress, McConnell, R-Ky., maintained the importance of bolstering NATO’s eastern flank and said which he had been calling on the Biden administration, since December, to “accelerate deliveries of lethal aid and aircraft and tank weapons.”
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McConnell, in a swipe at the Biden administration, said “efforts to transfer arms are moving at the speed of bureaucracy.”
Criticizing the administration, McConnell said the White House had “emphasized its hesitation and restraint aimed at avoiding escalation.”
“But with every step, [Russian President Vladimir] Putin escalated three weeks ago now and Putin’s invasion, the reality, on the ground is changing,” McConnell said, saying it is “more difficult now than it was a few months ago to maintain the weapons and intelligence supply pipeline for the brave Ukrainians. open support.”
“Russia’s air offensive in particular, in particular, is reaching a deadlier and more aggressive pace,” McConnell warned.
McConnell called on Biden to “deploy more U.S. forces to bolster NATO’s eastern flank and use the new withdrawal and loan guarantee authorities to help bolster the defenses of our frontline allies and partners.”
“Many of these partners are generously assisting Ukraine, and we should help them fill their inventories with more modern American capabilities that will improve NATO interoperability and enhance deterrence,” McConnell said.
McConnell’s comments came after Zelenskyy pleaded with the US to ‘do more’ by implementing a no-fly zone, providing additional aircraft and air defense systems and creating a new security alliance .
The White House has argued that creating a no-fly zone would be considered “escalation” and “could start a war with Russia”.
Ukraine is not a member of NATO, so it is not subject to the provision of Article V of the NATO alliance which states that when a member country is attacked, all countries members will take action to help.
Biden on Wednesday afternoon is expected to make remarks at the White House announcing an additional $800 million in military aid to Ukraine — on top of the $200 million in funding announced on Saturday.
The new funding brings total U.S. assistance to Ukraine to more than $1 billion in just days – and total U.S. military assistance to Ukraine to more than $1 billion. .2 billion over the past year.
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Biden is due to travel to Brussels, Belgium next week for a NATO summit, scheduled for March 24.
But McConnell asked Biden to expand his trip and “go beyond Brussels.”
“He should go to countries like Poland, Romania or Lithuania to meet with allies on NATO’s eastern flank,” McConnell said. “And he should look beyond NATO to deepen our diplomatic and security cooperation with important U.S. partners.”
Meanwhile, McConnell said “even with a literal ground war in Europe, the implosion of the Democrats is so painful that inflation, not Ukraine, is still high on the list of concerns for the American people.”
“From the gas pump to groceries, clothes, diapers and formula, furniture and home essentials, car repairs and replacements – Democrats’ policies have put families workers on a treadmill where they have to run faster and faster every month just to stay put,” McConnell said, citing “skyrocketing” rental prices, rising “faster than they have done since 1991”, and grocery prices climbing “faster than they have done since 1980”.
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“The Democrats lost a shameless campaign to blame 12 months of inflation, not on 12 months of their bad policies, but rather on the last three-week crisis in Europe,” McConnell continued. “The White House informs us, quote, ‘Putin’s price hike is the culprit.'”
“Of course, that’s complete nonsense,” McConnell said. “It’s Biden inflation and he has to own the White House.”
Biden this week again said that Putin and the COVID-19 pandemic were responsible for record inflation in the United States and argued that the rising prices had “nothing to do” with the policies of his administration.
“We know families are still struggling with higher prices,” Biden said. “Let’s be absolutely clear why prices are high now or high for two reasons.”
The first, Biden said, is due to “the way the global economy works.”
“A factory in Taiwan that makes computer chips is closing due to a COVID outbreak. This is causing a ripple effect to slow down auto manufacturing,” Biden said. “So because of the pandemic, we’ve had significant supply chain disruptions, and our supply chain is so important with so many materials coming in from other places.”
“And now a second big reason for inflation is Vladimir Putin,” Biden said.
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“We’ve seen the price of gasoline go up more than a dollar just since he put his troops on the Ukrainian border — they’ve gone up a dollar and five cents,” Biden said.
“A big part of that reason is that Putin started gathering troops along the border and then crossed over. And guess what? The world took notice,” Biden said. “The market anticipated, prices rose, then Putin invaded.”
He added: “Make no mistake, the current spike in petrol prices is largely Vladimir Putin’s fault – it has nothing to do with the US bailout.
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Biden said “bailing out our economy didn’t cause this problem,” but he promised to “fix it.”
Meanwhile, inflation hits a new 40-year high in February. the consumer price index climbed 7.9% on an annual basis, according to data released Thursday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Month over month, according to the data, inflation rose 0.8%.
The year-on-year reading is in line with estimates and compares with an annual jump of 7.5% in January, marking the fastest rise since February 1982, when inflation hit 7.6%.
Gas jumped 6.6% in February and accounted for nearly a third of price increases, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data released Thursday. Food prices, by comparison, rose 1%.
The February data was recorded before the start of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, which pushed prices at the pump to $4.31 so far, according to AAA, a record high.
Biden last week announced a ban on all Russian oil, gas and energy imports into the United States, targeting the “main artery” of the Russian economy amid Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war on Ukraine. Biden warned the ban would cost American families.
Russian oil exports account for about a third European oil importsbut Russian exports represent just under 10% of total US imports.
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