U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, the second-highest ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said the United States cannot rule out any options for responding to Russian aggression in Ukraine—including sending in ground troops or even a nuclear strike.
“Military action could mean that we stand off with our ships in the Black Sea, and we rain destruction on Russian military capability,” Mississippi’s senior senator said during an interview with Fox News host Neil Cavuto today. “It could mean that. It could mean that we participate, and I would not rule that out, I would not rule out American troops on the ground. We don’t rule out first use nuclear action.”
Wicker did not call for the use of such measures, however. The remarks came as President Joe Biden held talks with European allies regarding Russia’s latest buildup of military on the border with Ukraine. In 2014, Russia invaded and annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula.
The senator’s office did not offer comment on his remarks today, but an aide did direct this reporter to a separate interview he did with CNN this afternoon for additional context. In that interview, Wicker did not advocate for ground troops or a nuclear strike, but told CNN host Ana Cabrera that he hoped Biden “didn’t rule out anything” when it comes to Russia and Ukraine.
“I think the thing to do is not take anything off the table,” the senator said. “You know, when it comes to our nuclear policy, if you’ll recall, we don’t take things off the table there. We make it clear that every option is open. That’s been a policy of Democrats and Republicans, administration in and administration out.
“As a matter of fact, U.S. National Guard troops from California are present in Ukraine today. The California National Guard and the Ukrainian military have a partnership so there are uniformed American servicemen present there today just as there are Mississippi troops in some of our other allies in the former Soviet Union states.”
On Fox News, Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) floats the idea of bombing Russian military assets — and says he wouldn't even rule out a nuclear strike pic.twitter.com/I6SatMy6hi
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) December 7, 2021
During a two-hour secure video call today, Biden warned Russian President Vladimir Putin that any further military incursion on Ukraine’s sovereignty would be met with “strong economic and other measures,” a White House readout of the conversation said.
“President Biden reiterated his support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and called for de-escalation and a return to diplomacy,” the White House continued. “The two presidents tasked their teams to follow up, and the U.S. will do so in close coordination with allies and partners.”
Unlike Wicker, the Democratic president did not mention nuclear weapons or ground troops. In a later call, a separate White House readout said, Biden briefed European leaders on his call with the Russian president and “discussed the serious consequences of Russian military action in Ukraine and the need to de-escalate and return to diplomacy.”
In 2020, U.S. relations with Ukraine and foreign aid to help the country ward off Russian aggression took center stage in former President Donald Trump’s first impeachment trial. Trump stood accused of attempting to extort Ukraine’s president into helping him attack Biden’s credibility with false allegations. Wicker voted to acquit Trump during that trial and did so again when Trump faced incitement of insurrection charges in 2021.