Rand Paul Clashes With Secretary Antony Blinken Over US Involvement In Ukraine


Dylan Housman Deputy News Editor
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Republican Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul engaged in a back-and-forth with Secretary of State Antony Blinken about American involvement in Ukraine during a Senate Committee on Foreign Relations Hearing.

Paul and Blinken debated the degree to which the U.S. is responsible for the predicament Ukraine now finds itself in, two months into a defensive war against Russia. Paul posited that multiple American presidents, from George W. Bush to Joe Biden, forced Ukraine toward conflict by trying to bring the country into NATO.


The senator said Ukraine’s trouble began in 2008, when the Bush administration pushed NATO to say that Georgia and Ukraine would become members. He then accused the Biden administration of “agitating” for Ukraine to join NATO in a joint agreement signed last year.

“It’s not a question of agitating for Ukraine’s admission, it’s a question of standing up for the basic principle that we strongly adhere to, that there should be and will be an open door policy when it comes to NATO membership,” Blinken responded. “These are sovereign decisions for European countries to make, and of course for the NATO alliance to make.”

“One country can’t dictate to another the choices it makes about with whom it allies, its foreign policies.”

Paul implied that the U.S. and Ukraine provoked Russia by continuing to discuss NATO membership even after Russian President Vladimir Putin made clear that it was a red line.

“There could have been voices before this invasion, instead of agitating for something that we knew our adversary absolutely hated, and said was a red line as recently as last September before you signed the agreement once again agitating for NATO, Russia said that it was a red line,” Paul argued.

The two men then pivoted to what would have happened had Ukraine joined NATO prior to the invasion by Russia. Paul said that American troops would now be in harm’s way in Ukraine, perhaps without stopping any of the destruction which has occurred, and that some of the more “bellicose” members of the Senate would be arguing for full-blown military intervention to fight Russia.

Blinken countered that the three countries Russia has aggressed upon in recent years, Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova, are not NATO members, implying that Russia would have been more hesitant to attack Ukraine if it were in NATO. Paul countered that all three used to be part of Russia, before correcting himself to say that all three had been part of the Soviet Union.

Russia has not attacked any former members of the Soviet Union that are now in NATO, such as Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. (RELATED: Russian Police Mocked For Allegedly Botched False Flag Assassination Attempt)

“We took very seriously the arguments that some Russians were putting forward back last fall, that they had concerns about Ukraine’s eventual membership in NATO, in terms of their security posture… we sought to engage them on those issues, in real seriousness,” Blinken explained. “But when everything came to a head, it is abundantly clear, in President Putin’s own words, that this was never about Ukraine being potentially part of NATO, and it was always about his belief that Ukraine does not deserve to be a sovereign, independent country — that it must be reassumed into Russia.”

Paul then raised the prospect of Ukraine giving up on NATO membership and broader alignment with the West in a potential negotiated peace.

“Would President Biden be open to accepting Ukraine as an unaligned, neutral nation?” Paul asked.

“We, senator, are not going to be more Ukrainian than the Ukrainians,” Blinken answered. These are decisions for them to make.”

Blinken’s testimony came after he returned from a visit to Kyiv alongside Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin. The Biden administration promised more aid to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, as Ukraine is anticipating a renewed Russian offensive in the eastern region of the country.