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After secret trip to Ukraine, Moulton says Putin must be defeated

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U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton at WBUR (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)
U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton at WBUR (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)

Massachusetts Congressman Seth Moulton made an unannounced trip to Ukraine and Poland over the weekend.

He was part of a bipartisan Congressional delegation that met with U.S. and Ukrainian officials in Kyiv, and U.S. troops deployed in Poland.

The Congressman spoke to WBUR's Steve Brown.

Interview Highlights

On his latest visit, one year after making a similar trip to Ukraine

"I went there in December of last year, exactly a year ago, at a time when a lot of people weren't taking the threat of Russia's invasion seriously. We weren't doing enough to prevent a war with Russia. We weren't doing enough to deter [Russian President Vladimir] Putin. We were just talking about a response.

"Sadly, that proved quite accurate and a couple of months later, Putin invaded. They're now about eight months into the war. And I'll tell you, it's remarkable how little has changed in the capital city.

"Despite the horrific war that Vladimir Putin has unleashed on this country — an illegal and completely unnecessary war that's killing thousands and thousands of people — the Ukrainians are still remarkably resilient that Kyiv felt much the same as it did a year ago."

On the main takeaways from his visit

"They have to win this war. It's obvious that right now there's just no negotiating space between the Ukrainians and Russia. Ukraine wants its country back and they certainly deserve to have it back. Russia doesn't seem willing to budge.

"It's important that we get Ukraine what they need to win this war, but their requests change over time. What they needed a few months ago is not what they need today. Today they're focused on getting air defenses to stop this onslaught of Russian attacks against their energy infrastructure.

"Putin's trying to use winter as a weapon and freeze the Ukrainians to death over the winter months. They've got to shoot those missiles out of the sky."

On how Ukraine's energy infrastructure is holding up

"Their energy infrastructure is fragile, in part because it's all based on Soviet technology. So the immediate focus is getting replacement parts.

"In the long run, though, it is important that they transition their power grid to a Western system — not only because it will be more resilient and reliable, but because it will tie Ukraine in with the West."

On how effective U.S. support to Ukraine has been

"I think that for the longest time in this war, we've been doing all the right things — sometimes a little bit late. And I think there's still more that we can do to accelerate the delivery of supplies, both humanitarian and military, to the Ukrainians.

"The number one thing we need to do is accelerate the delivery of air defense systems like the Patriot missile. We've got to get that to them as quickly as they can, because every day that goes by where Putin is able to launch more attacks on their energy infrastructure, it threatens to literally freeze Ukrainians to death over the winter.

"The second thing we need to do is really focus on what they need to win this as quickly as possible; to push Russia back to a point where they're willing to negotiate on more reasonable terms.

"Ultimately, we need to ensure the strategic defeat of Vladimir Putin so that he doesn't go anywhere next. Putin will not stop on his own. And if he doesn't get stopped in Ukraine, he could well go to a NATO country next. That means U.S. troops would have to be involved."

This segment aired on December 12, 2022.

Fausto Menard Twitter Producer, All Things Considered
Fausto Menard is a producer for WBUR's All Things Considered.

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Steve Brown Twitter Senior Reporter/Anchor
Steve Brown is a veteran broadcast journalist who serves as WBUR's senior State House reporter.

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