FLORENCE, S.C. (WBTW) – South Carolina Rep. Tom Rice said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine wouldn’t have happened if Donald Trump was still president.
Rice said after hearing the news of Russia President Vladimir Putin launching a full-scale invasion on Ukraine, he was disappointed.
Rice was one of 10 Republicans who voted to impeach Trump after the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol. He is up for re-election this year. Trump has endorsed Rice’s opponent, Russell Fry, and blasted Rice earlier this month, calling him a “coward who abandoned his constituents.”
“I think if President Trump was still in, I don’t believe Putin would’ve done this because I believe Putin would’ve been afraid of how Mr. Trump would’ve responded,” Rice said.
South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham reportedly told Fox News something similar, saying “none of this crap would be going on” if Trump was in office.
Trump made headlines this week when he praised Putin’s tactics as “genius” and complimented the Russian leader for recognizing two breakaway territories in eastern Ukraine, a move he said was “smart” and “pretty savvy.”
Rice said the invasion could affect the lives of many by causing an uptick in gas and food prices, and worse — death. After hearing that President Joe Biden pledged new sanctions to punish Russia for this aggression, he said he thinks Biden reacted “weakly.”
“I think the President has acted very weakly and all that does is encourage a bully and a criminal like Mr. Putin and I think Mr. Putin watched what happened in Afghanistan, for example, and how feckless and weak and unplanned and un-strategic that was and how it cost American lives and that did nothing but encourage Mr. Putin’s activity today.”
Biden has stated clearly that he will not be sending troops to Ukraine, telling NBC News earlier in February, “That’s a world war when Americans and Russia start shooting at one another.”
While announcing new sanctions on Russia Thursday, Biden reiterated that “our forces are not going to Europe to fight in Ukraine but to defend our NATO allies and reassure those allies in the East.”
Should Russia threaten nearby NATO allies such as Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania, the US would be required to step in.
While the GOP has faced increased internal tension in recent days, Republicans on Capitol Hill have come together to collectively blame Biden for what is happening in Ukraine.
“The Biden administration has been a failure on almost every single front and I think this is a catastrophic failure for the world,” he said.
Rice, who has called the Biden administration “a catastrophic failure for the world,” said the U.S. should consider arming Ukrainians.
“We’re not going to get into sending cruise missiles into Russia, but we should use every tool at our disposal, including arming the Ukrainians, so that they can defend themselves, number one, and number two, every possible sanction that we can put on the Russians so that they feel pain as a result of this,” Rice said. “So, if they don’t have anything to lose, why aren’t they going to invade Ukraine?”
Rice said he is also waiting to see how China reacts to the situation.