McConnell praises Biden response on Ukraine

Senate Minority Leader says Biden administration is ‘moving in the right direction’ before Russia invades Ukraine rather than afterwards.

Eric Garcia
Tuesday 25 January 2022 18:29

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has praised President Joe Biden’s response to the crisis between Ukraine and Russia, saying Mr Biden is acting in a proactive manner.

The Republican leader, often a critic of Mr Biden, said the president’s response has been encouraging. The Biden administration announced on Monday that it placed 8,500 troops on “heightened preparedness”.

“What I have been hearing since then is encouraging that they’re prepared to take steps before an incursion, not afterwards” Mr McConnell told reporters Tuesday, adding he had not followed the news that day. “But it appears to me that the administration is moving in the right direction.”

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said she welcomed Mr McConnell’s praise, noting how a bipartisan congressional delegation visited Ukraine.

“I think abiding by our Article V commitments, standing up for the territorial sovereignty of Ukraine, making clear that one country should not be able to invade and take over territory from another country, that’s not just a Democratic belief or a Republican belief,” she said. “That’s central to who we are as a country.”

Ms Psaki said that while she welcomes the praise, briefings would also continue with leaders on Capitol Hill. At the same time, she said she would refer to the specifics Mr McConnell praised.

Mr McConnell and Mr Biden’s relationship hit a low point in recent weeks. After Mr McConnell voted to pass a bipartisan infrastructure bill in the summer, the two feuded after Mr Biden asked whether elected officials wanted to be remembered as being on the side of Bull Connor and Jefferson Davis or Abraham Lincoln and civil rights activist John Lewis when it came to voting rights.

“How profoundly unpresidential, I have known, liked, and personally respected Joe Biden for many years. I did not recognise the man at that podium yesterday,” he said at the time.

Similarly, Mr Biden criticised Mr McConnell in a news conference last week, despite stating he liked the Kentucky Republican personally.

“What’s Mitch for? What’s he for? What’s he for on immigration?” Mr Biden said. “What’s he for in dealing with Russia? What’s he for on these things? What are they for?”

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