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As tensions rise in Ukraine, Ohio Senators Portman and Brown discuss U.S. involvement

Ukraine Tensions
Posted at 4:28 PM, Mar 10, 2022

CLEVELAND — To this point in the war between Russia and Ukraine, the U.S. and its NATO allies have walked a fine line between supporting Ukraine and its people without becoming directly involved in the conflict. There's been financial aid to the country and its military successes have been tied to U.S. supplied Stinger anti-aircraft and Javelin anti-tank missiles but Senator Rob Portman tells News 5 "we need to do more and we need to do it faster."

"We're all seeing on our TV sets what's happening over there, the Russians have gotten bogged down because the Ukrainians have been much more resilient than anybody thought, certainly in the Putin Administration and that's good but eventually this overwhelming military force they have their shelling their missiles is going to ruin this country absolutely, destroy it and kill many more thousands of civilians."

Portman disagrees with the Pentagon and supports supplying Ukraine with Poland's Soviet-era MIG fighter jets.

"It's our responsibility at a minimum to provide them with what they need to protect themselves and one they're telling us they need right now are these airplanes because air power is incredibly important in order to protect the cities, protect these families who are trying to flee," Portman said. "I spoke to the Polish ambassador today, they'd like to go forward with this, the United States needs to step up and help."

Portman's been in contact with Senator Sherrod Brown, both believe economic sanctions and financial pressures need to be ramped up.

"I was in a meeting again today with some of our British allies and spoke with Senator Portman today," said Brown. "This is a bi-partisan effort of course."

"We know that Putin's a war criminal, we know we need to inflict pain on the Russian economy their economy is in shambles and getting worse. We put the pressure on Russian banks, now on Russian oil companies," he said. "We need to continue on that path. I know the Ukrainian community in Cleveland supports that. Senator Portman and I continue to work with them in a way that gives them a little bit of comfort in an absolutely awful time for this country."

With the White House warning that Russia could use chemical or even nuclear weapons, I asked both if that would be a "so-called" red line that would draw the U-S through NATO in.

"Well I think all options need to be on the table in terms of keeping Russia from doing some of these unthinkable things," Portman said. "I just can't trust what the Russians are saying these days so if they deny it then you find out they're not telling the truth. As an example this maternity hospital that was bombed. Initially, they were saying 'we didn't do it.' And of course, they did do it, we see the footage of it, then 'we didn't mean to do it.' Well it turns out they did."

Brown said "I don't think that NATO nor the U.S. wants to paint a line, saying you crossed this line we're coming in. I think we reassess each time but Putin has escalated a war, his war of choice, including yesterday by bombing that hospital with children and with pregnant women in it. So I think we reassess each time."

In a News 5 Twitter poll, about 40% said the U.S. should invoke more nonmilitary actions with 14% saying we should send armed forces.

When asked on Facebook what would need to happen for you to support U.S. military involvement in the war, Brenda wrote "NOTHING! Absolutely NOTHING! Not a fan of being a part of WWIII." Benny wrote, "If we didn't enter on day one. It is not our fight. Support is all we can do. So the answer is nothing." Jamie said it would take "an invasion into additional countries… other than that nope. it's sad but it's simply a conflict between two nations. Learn from history, but understand it happens and it's not our fight until he starts expanding it."

Whatever the U.S. does do next, Portman says it needs to happen now.

"There's more we can do, we gotta do it fast, unfortunately, it's a matter of days and weeks, not months and sometimes the bureaucracy moves too slowly," he said.