On Tuesday, Rep. Colin Allred joined a bipartisan delegation to Belgium and Ukraine amid heightened fears of a Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The delegation is led by Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY), who chairs the House Foreign Affairs Committee which Allred also sits on.
Allred and his fellow members of Congress are meeting with EU and NATO officials in Brussels to discuss the security situation in Eastern Europe. Brussels is both the de facto EU capital and home to NATO headquarters. The delegation is also meeting with Ukrainian officials in Kyiv to discuss the security situation and reinforce U.S. support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
“In this critical time I am proud to join a bipartisan group of colleagues to visit Belgium and Ukraine and meet with key representatives from NATO and the EU,” Allred said in a statement. “Ukraine is an important democracy and has resisted democratic backsliding that has happened elsewhere in the region. I look forward to meeting with officials from across the region and reiterating that America supports the Ukrainian people and their right to self-determination.”
In 2014, Russia annexed Crimea with “little green men” and waged proxy war in the Donbas region. However, a massive Russian military buildup along the border has fostered fears that a more overt invasion of Ukraine is imminent. About 130,000 Russian troops, along with large numbers of tanks, fighter jets, artillery, etc., now surround Ukraine on three sides. The United States and Europe are scrambling for a diplomatic solution but so far no breakthrough has been reached.
While Allred and his colleagues say the United States stands with Ukraine, Washington’s options to prevent a Russian invasion remain limited. The Pentagon has placed 8,500 troops on alert for deployment to Europe but Biden has already ruled out deploying American forces to Ukraine itself. Weapons from the United States and other NATO countries are already being delivered to Ukraine although experts are skeptical of whether this will make a significant difference.
The West would certainly impose economic sanctions in response to an invasion, although the actual effect of these sanctions would greatly depend on how far the various NATO members are willing to go (many European countries depend on Russian energy and would be hesitant about imposing maximum punishment on Moscow).