Lawmakers: US submarine force can help check Russian ambitions in Ukraine

The U.S. Navy must dedicate forces to pushing back against Russian activity throughout the European theater in the coming weeks, two lawmakers said, even as the world’s focus is on Ukraine’s land borders with Russia and Belarus.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal and Rep. Joe Courtney agreed that a strong show of force from the Navy — particularly in the undersea domain, where Russia has focused its modernization efforts — could help deter Russia from its overall effort to assert itself in the region or to stop a small conflict from growing into something larger.

The two Connecticut Democrats spoke Jan. 24 at a virtual event hosted by submarine builder General Dynamics Electric Boat.

Russian President Vladimir Putin “will test us in every single place that he can. He’s doing it right now in Ukraine: he wants to restore the hegemony over countries that formerly were part of the Soviet Union; bring back Ukraine into Mother Russia; conduct a hybrid war of military actions, cyber-attack and misinformation. And part of his overall strategy is to bolster undersea warfare and thereby push the United States, try to divide allies, and create instability,” Blumenthal said in response to a question regarding how naval forces could help get Putin to back down in Ukraine.

“Undersea warfare — because we’re talking about the Mediterranean, about the Black Sea as potential areas of tension and conflict — is very much in play even though it isn’t directly involved in the confrontation in the Eastern Ukraine area or Crimea or in the northern borders of Ukraine, which represent perhaps the greatest immediate threat in Belarus, where Putin is amassing forces right now,” he added.

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