Russian President Vladimir Putin has already stated his goal is to "make Russia great again," and he is determined to do it one way or another, Rep. Michael Waltz said Monday on Newsmax.
"He intends to re-create the old Soviet Union, and a key piece of that is Belarus and Ukraine," the Florida Republican said on Newsmax's "Wake Up America." "He already has Belarus under his thumb and Ukraine is next. That's what Putin has been clear about and he's going to do it through diplomatic concessions, he's going to do it through some type of engineered coup, or do it militarily."
His comments come as the Kremlin played down a statement from French President Emmanuel Macron that Putin and President Joe Biden have agreed on a meeting in principle for a summit. Further, satellite images are appearing to show Russian troops deployed closer to the Ukraine border than they had been.
"I don't think Putin has ever been serious about negotiations," said Waltz. "He's used them to buy time."
Perhaps, the congressman said, the pressure of having so many troops on Ukraine's border could have caused Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's government to collapse or the country's economy to crater.
"I do think Zelenskyy has defied expectations," said Waltz. "Remember, just two years ago he was a comedian and now he is standing strong."
The Ukraine president has also called the United States and others to task, including Vice President Kamala Harris by asking why sanctions aren't in place yet and why more isn't being done to help the country as it faces a potential invasion, Waltz said.
Meanwhile, over the weekend, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told ABC News' "This Week" that the sanctions being discussed by the United States may not affect Putin and those close to him as much as they will the everyday Russian population, and Waltz said if that is the case, then the administration is considering the wrong kind of punishment for an invasion of Ukraine.
"[The sanctions] they should be putting on the table are the ones that will affect Putin's oligarchs and his generals, the yachts that are sitting in the Caribbean and all, off the coast of southern France, the villas in Italy and England, all of their kids that are attending university at Harvard and Oxford and other places," said Waltz, adding that such people's visas should be revoked.
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