Fresh off an international diplomatic trip, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi Wednesday praised the swift sanctions imposed by President Biden on Russia and warned that the “tyrant” Vladimir Putin should expect more pain for his hostilities against Ukraine.
“It’s stunning to see in this day and age a tyrant roll into a country. This is the same tyrant who attacked our democracy in 2016,” Pelosi said Wednesday of Putin.
Pelosi held a news conference following a whirlwind congressional trip that included stops in Israel, the United Kingdom and Germany for the Munich Security Conference. She said Putin’s actions brought NATO allies together, and they were unified in their agreement to impose swift and severe consequences on Russia.
“This, my friends, is our moment. This is the Sudetenland,” Pelosi said in reference to former Nazi leader Adolf Hilter’s expansion into the Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia that preceded World War II. “That’s what people were saying [abroad in Munich]. You cannot ignore what Putin is doing. Nobody, of course, is ignoring it. But you cannot take it any lighter than what it is — a total assault on democracy.”
Russia sent forces to Ukraine Monday as Putin announced that he would recognize the independence of two separatist regions, despite diplomatic pressure from the Biden administration and NATO allies and the threat of international sanctions.
Biden Tuesday followed through with the “first tranche” of sanctions against Russia and pledged to escalate with more if “Russia goes further with this invasion.” Allies responded as well with Germany declaring a halt to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline from Russia.
Despite calls from Republicans that the U.S. should have imposed pre-invasion sanctions, Pelosi said she respects Biden’s judgment and the goal of the international community to be unified in its response. She batted down questions from a reporter on whether the response was too late to deter Russia.
“I think you are frankly wasting your time on something that is after the fact,” Pelosi said.
Still, Pelosi as well as California Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff, who was at the news conference, signaled that sanctions on Putin will continue to increase.
“We haven’t seen the depths of these sanctions yet,” Pelosi said.
“This is a very evil move on the part of Vladimir Putin,” Pelosi continued, adding that sanctions could hit Putin and his oligarchs financially. “He is a KGB guy who happens to be probably the richest man in the world because of this exploitation of his own people.”