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Politics

Mike Rounds: NATO is stronger than ever

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Rounds for Senate
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This interview is from SDPB's daily public-affairs show, In the Moment.

U.S. Senator Mike Rounds says Russia should be held accountable for reparations in Ukraine because of the ongoing destruction of the nation’s infrastructure. Senator Rounds sits on the U.S. Senate North Atlantic Treaty Organization Observer Group. He says the NATO alliance is as strong as it has ever been.

“I think this has been a real shock to Russia, just how strong NATO has proven to be," Rounds says. "But the European Union is also strongly committed to the economic sanctions that have been imposed on Russia. That’s something that will make it extremely difficult for Russia to continue for an extended period of time in this belligerent attack they’ve done on Ukraine .”

Great Britain and more than two dozen countries agreed this week to increase their military aid to Ukraine.

The following transcript has been auto-generated

Lori Walsh:
So you and I have talked about this before, and we know that Ukraine is not a member of NATO, but it is a democracy. And I'm wondering in your conversations with other senators and with NATO allies, how are you discussing the outcome of this war as it relates to the expansion or contraction of democracies across the globe?

Sen. Mike Rounds:
We know that there is a humanitarian crisis with regards to what Russia is doing to Ukraine. And it's really hard to sit back, just morally to sit back and to see one nation attack and try to destroy another nation. And yet we don't have that obligation, that lawful obligation to step in through a treaty such as we have with the other NATO organization countries. And that's really been a challenge for us because when you come home and you talk with folks in the country, they want you to do as much as you can, but they don't want us sending our young men and women to do battle with Russia, unless it's absolutely necessary and as part of a NATO operation. So the real question is what can we do to help Ukraine as much as possible without an acceleration into a direct confrontation with NATO. We're going to continue to send as much equipment as we possibly can, as quick as we can.

Sen. Mike Rounds:
And the Ukrainians know what they need. They need air defense, which means not just stinger missiles, but they need the surface to air missiles that they know how to operate. They're called SAM 3's. They also want more equipment to go after tanks and so forth. And we're providing them as quickly as we can, as well as our NATO counterparts also. Clearly if there was more that we thought we could do right now, we would be doing it. We've accelerated the equipment getting over there, and we get updates literally every week to make sure that we don't have a bureaucratic mix up someplace that's delaying the delivery of that into Ukraine.

Lori Walsh:
Do you feel that NATO is strong and united in their support of Ukraine in these ways, in the ways of sanctions and supplying the military with the tools that they need?

Sen. Mike Rounds:
I think this has been a real shock to Russia just how strong NATO has proven to be. I think NATO is as strong now as it has ever been. And I think the fact that the NATO states are committed to investing more money into the defense of their countries, which is part of the requirement for being in NATO. But the European Union is also strongly committed to the economic sanctions that have been imposed on Russia. And that's something that will make it extremely difficult for Russia to continue for an extended period of time in this really belligerent attack that they've done on Ukraine. But the loss that we've got in Ukraine is huge and reparations for the damage done is something that we should be talking about as well, because Russia should be held accountable for the damage that they're doing in the destruction of a huge amount of the physical infrastructure, homes and institutions and so forth in Ukraine.

Lori Walsh:
Do you believe that Russian President Vladimir Putin is a war criminal at this point from what you have seen taking place on the ground?

Sen. Mike Rounds:
I personally believe that if they were to have an investigation, I believe that they would find him guilty of war crimes, but that hasn't been done yet. And so to define it, it's one thing for us to say we believe that, it's another thing to actually get the appropriate authorities to make that a finding. But is he absolutely closer to Hitler than to Peter the Great? Yes. Will he go down in history as being a tyrant? Yes. Will he go down as creating one of the greatest losses of life and property and destruction, uncaused, unforced? The answer is yes. So long term, do I believe that he will be found as a war criminal? Yes, I do.

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