Rep. Morelle weighs in on Ukraine

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — What’s next? That’s what so many are asking as tensions continue to rise in Ukraine. A senior U.S. Defense official says Russia is ready for an expected large-scale invasion.

Rep. Joe Morelle (D, NY-25) sits on the House Committee on Armed Services. He has met with local Ukrainian leaders already, and he plans to meet with them again later this week.

Morelle’s message is clear. He says the U.S. will not forget the people of Ukraine and will continue to support the country’s democracy.

"This is a very, very dangerous situation," Morelle said. "I think everyone should be praying for peace, and we’re going to do everything we can to make sure there’s a free Europe."

On Wednesday, Russia began evacuating its embassy in Kyiv, and Ukraine has urged its citizens to leave Russia. The government in Ukraine is calling for a state of emergency to prepare for a large-scale invasion.

Meantime, the U.S. unveiled new sanctions Wednesday against the company that built a key natural gas pipeline between Russia and Germany. That’s on top of the sanctions Tuesday against two large Russian banks and elites. However, some, like Senator Ted Cruz (R, TX), say the sanctions so far are not enough.

"I think in relatively short order they will have enormous impacts on the Russian economy; on him personally," Morelle said of the sanctions. "Vladimir Putin is one of the wealthiest people in Russia. Not because he’s earned any of it but because he’s stolen it all. There are going to be real impacts on their ability to move forward as an economy."

As for Putin, he has yet to unleash the force of 150,000 troops set up on three sides of Ukraine. Analysts say sanctions of any kind may not stop him.

"Tragically, I think he’s gonna go in. He’s gonna go in big, and this will probably be the largest war in Europe since 1939," said Former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul.

Morelle believes U.S. sanctions will continue to grow and says if Putin is hoping to destroy NATO, it’s not working. Morelle says it’s only solidified the support of our NATO allies and their condemnation of Putin.