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Sen. Romney: Russia invasion, sanctions could slow economy, boost inflation

By Tim Vandenack - | Mar 2, 2022

J. Scott Applewhite, Associated Press

Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, talks to reporters during votes at the Capitol in Washington on Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2022.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Russian invasion of Ukraine, no matter how far away it is, won’t likely leave Americans untouched, says U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney.

The economic and other sanctions imposed on Russia come “with a certain degree of risk and a recognition that these will have an impact on us, potentially by driving interest rates higher, by slowing our economy, by causing inflation to be a little higher or a lot higher,” he said in a video call Wednesday with Utah reporters.

Gasoline prices, he went on, are likely to go up.

At the same time, Russian President Vladimir Putin could lash back at the United States given the economic sanctions his country is facing.

“The people that I’m talking to suggest that there’s potential for a very significant impact on Russia’s economy (stemming from the sanctions). If that turns out to be the case, why it’s possible that Vladimir Putin will decide to hit back,” Romney said, speaking from Washington, D.C. “If he hits back, he may decide to go after our financial system the way we have sanctioned his financial system.”

Image supplied

This screengrab from a video conference call shows Sen. Mitt Romney as he addresses the Utah media on Wednesday, March 2, 2022, from his office in Washington, D.C.

Finance companies, he added, should protect and back up their data, be ready to contend with “cyberintrusions.”

Romney doesn’t see U.S. troops heading to Ukraine or U.S. aircraft entering Ukrainian airspace because such a move could spark a direct confrontation between U.S. and Russian forces, leading to a world war. But if Russia attempts to cross into North Atlantic Treaty Organization nations, say Romania or Poland, the story would change.

“We will defend every inch of NATO land,” Romney said.

All that said, Russia will likely face plenty of trouble just contending with Ukraine and Ukrainians, he thinks.

“They’re going to have a hard time holding onto it if they’re lucky enough to capture Kyiv,” the Republican senator said. “They may or may not do that. But if they do, the Ukraine people aren’t going to say, ‘OK, you won, we’re going to be quiet.’ The battle’s going to go on and it’s going to be costly and bloody for Russia to try to hold on to their gains.”

Al Drago, Pool via AP

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., right, and Sen. Mitt Romney, R- Utah, arrive to hear President Joe Biden deliver his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress at the Capitol on Tuesday, March 1, 2022, in Washington.

He praised President Joe Biden’s remarks about the Ukraine situation during his State of the Union address on Tuesday. “I was generally pleased with the discussion about Ukraine and Russia and showing our resolve to stand with the people of Ukraine,” Romney said.

He was disappointed, though, with much of the rest of the president’s speech.

“Russia has invaded a neighbor, China is emerging as the most powerful nation on the planet and inflation is at a very high and unacceptable level in our country,” Romney said. “We need to rethink a lot of our policies as they relate to these polices and the president just didn’t do that.”

Romney offered tough words toward those who interrupted Biden’s address. U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert, a Colorado Republican, for one, yelled out while he was discussing the deaths of U.S. service members stemming from exposure to toxins while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to The Washington Post.

“Yelling out accusations, it’s just really repugnant and repulsive and I just feel it was wrong,” Romney said. “Sometimes people in our own party do things that embarrass me. I was embarrassed last night as they did that. There was a response from all of us, Republican and Democrats, with a quiet boo to that kind of comment.”


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