Senator Says Ukraine Invasion Shows Why U.S. Must 'Secure' Southern Border

Bill Hagerty Senate Republican Border Security Ukraine
Senator Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.) urged the Biden administration to work on "securing our southern border" in response to Russian President Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine. Hagerty is pictured during a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., on May 12, 2021. ALEX WONG/POOL/AFP/Getty

Republican Senator Bill Hagerty of Tennessee has called for the U.S. to work on "securing our southern border" in response to Russian President Vladimir Putin's "brutal" invasion of Ukraine.

Hagerty took to Twitter to condemned the Russian attack on Thursday, while insisting that the U.S. should bolster its own energy independence and increase security on the U.S.-Mexico border as a show of "strength" in response. Russia launched a ground and air assault on Ukraine on Wednesday night after months of international tension amid a military buildup of Russian forces.

"Unprovoked, Ukraine is under attack from a brutal Russian Dictator. As Americans, we pray for the people of Ukraine," Hagerty tweeted. "The U.S. must demonstrate our strength by reclaiming our energy independence and securing our southern border."

Earlier this week, former President Donald Trump touched on launching a similar strategy along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Hagerty has repeatedly criticized President Joe Biden's policies on energy and immigration, including his cancelation of Trump's U.S.-Mexico border wall project.

The GOP senator's description of Putin as a "brutal Russian Dictator" was in sharp contrast to views expressed by the former president, who has praised Putin's invasion as "smart" and "savvy."

Hagerty, who shared a digitally altered image of Trump appearing on Mount Rushmore in a Presidents Day tweet, is only one of several Republicans to break with the former president in declining to praise Putin.

Representative Jody Hice, whose candidacy for Georgia secretary of state has been endorsed by Trump, tweeted, "Vladimir Putin is an evil man desperately resurrecting an Evil Empire" on Thursday.

Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa compared Putin's "inhumane" actions to those of Soviet leader Josef Stalin in a tweet, while Representative Michael McCaul of Texas argued that the attack was the worst since "since Hitler invaded Poland in World War II" during a morning interview on CBS.

However, even those Republicans who have spoken out against Putin have mostly joined Trump in blaming the attack on what they characterize as the weakness of the Biden administration. Trump has insisted that Russia-Ukraine tensions were never "even a possibility" during his administration.

Hagerty blamed the invasion on a lack of action from Biden in a more detailed statement on Thursday, while also calling on the president to implement several other actions to boost "American strength" and deter Putin.

"The Russian dictator has brought war to the European continent," said Hagerty. "President Biden's strategy to prevent this invasion has failed. Despite Ukrainian President [Volodymyr] Zelensky's persistent call for pre-invasion sanctions, the Biden Administration chose to do nothing until it was too late and must now change course."

"I'm calling on President Biden to immediately demonstrate American strength by moving to reclaim our energy independence, secure our own borders, put in place safeguards to protect our critical infrastructure, impose decisive economic and financial hardship on Putin's regime, work with our Allies and partners, including NATO, to boost Ukraine's capability to defend itself, and strengthen NATO's own defensive capabilities," he added.

Newsweek reached out to Hagerty's office for comment.