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Sen. Ron Johnson calls Putin 'a verifiable war criminal', supports military aid for Ukraine

Posted at 6:44 PM, Mar 18, 2022

DE PERE, Wis. (NBC 26) — Since Ukraine was invaded in February, almost seven million people have left their homes.

That's part of the reason why U.S. Senator Ron Johnson is calling on the United States to do more in an effort to stop Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"He's proven his brutality," Johnson said. "He's proven that he's a verifiable war criminal."

Johnson visited De Pere on Friday afternoon. And the Wisconsin-based Republican says American sanctions against Russia should have come before the war started.

"We should have been more upfront before Vladimir Putin invaded," he told reporters. "We might have been able to deter him, change his calculus."

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FILE - In this March 3, 2021 file photo, Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., speaks during a Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and Senate Committee on Rules and Administration joint hearing examining the January 6, attack on the U.S. Capitol in Washington. Critics of Johnson are calling him racist after he told an interviewer on Thursday, March 11, that he wasn’t worried about the supporters of former President Donald Trump who stormed the U.S. Capitol in January, but might have been concerned if they had been Black Lives Matter protesters. (Greg Nash/Pool via AP)

Over the last month, the United States has imposed a number of sanctions in opposition of Putin, Russian banking and technology sectors. Johnson wants to aid Ukraine with munitions, such as anti-aircraft missiles.

"We need to support the courageous Ukrainian people by giving them the defensive lethal weaponry that they need," he said.

Democratic U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin voted in favor of a spending bill that included over $13 billion in assistance for Ukraine.

"I believe we need to keep standing strong with Ukraine, our European allies, and NATO by continuing to provide them the support they need to defend against Putin's war against freedom…," she said in a statement.

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Democratic U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin voted in favor of a spending bill that included over $13 billion in assistance for Ukraine.

Johnson voted against the bill, saying it creates more American debt.

"That was pretty easy to not support that level of dysfunction, that kind of harmful deficit spending," he said.

Amid accusations of propaganda, Johnson says the U.S. needs to provide more information to Russian citizens.

"We need to do everything we can to increase the economic pressure on Vladimir Putin and his cronies," he said.