Attending the Munich Security Conference last week in Germany, U.S. Sen. Tommy Tuberville said “you could cut the tension with a knife” over Russia’s anticipated invasion of Ukraine.
And now that President Joe Biden on Tuesday determined Russia has indeed invaded Ukraine and imposed economic sanctions, Tuberville said it’s a months-late decision.
“We probably should have put sanctions on money, banks, five or six months ago to just kind of let them know, hey, this is what’s going to affect. This is how it’s going to feel,” Tuberville said, speaking to reporters Tuesday following his address to about 750 business and community leaders in Huntsville. “If you put sanctions on after the fact, they’re not going to turn around and backtrack from where they came from. They’re going to stay where they’re at.
“I just hope we don’t get a lot of people killed. And, again, you show strength early. You don’t show it after the fact and this administration has done just that.”
World leaders, including Vice President Kamala Harris, attended the conference.
“It was amazing that you could cut the tension with a knife,” Tuberville said Tuesday in his speech at the Von Braun Center. “And I’ve never been in anything like that.”
Tuberville covered an array of topics in his 33-minute address, including inflation, education and the pandemic as well as Huntsville’s role in national defense. He also lauded retiring Sen. Richard Shelby, who he said he speaks with every day and “I’ll have his number on speed dial” when Shelby leaves office in January 2023.
Tuberville mentioned former President Donald Trump only in passing and made no reference to Trump’s belief that he was wrongly denied a second term in office. Tuberville said the conflict with Russia is more a European problem than an American problem – a position he reiterated in a written statement Tuesday afternoon. “It’s important that that we help Ukraine as much as we can but we don’t need to spill one drop of blood,” he said. “This is really not our fight. NATO needs the support and, of course, we’re a NATO country. But this is more of a European NATO fight than ours.” In his speech, Tuberville described Russian President Vladimir Putin as a “bully.”
“I’m hoping that we don’t have one drop of American blood spilled in Ukraine,” Tuberville said. “But you’ve got bullies across the world, Putin’s one of them. We haven’t handled this right. We’ve been leading from behind. And we should have sanctioned (Russia) months ago.”
Tuberville also touched on U.S. Space Command, which is on track to move from Colorado to Huntsville’s Redstone Arsenal. Last year, the Air Force identified Redstone as its preferred site for Space Command headquarters. Leaders in Colorado, however, are still fighting to keep it there, Tuberville said.
“We’re fighting hard for Space Command,” the senator said. “Now Space Command is being looked at by the (Inspector General). We’ve still got a great opportunity.”
Tuberville said he was told that the quality of Huntsville’s schools was a key asset in the decision to locate Space Command in the Rocket City.
“Of course, since President Trump lost, the delegation – Republican and Democrat – from Colorado has been fighting like hell to keep Space Command in Colorado. So we’ve got a fight on our hands. But it belongs here.”
Building up the nation’s military is also critical, Tuberville said.
“We need a killing machine,” he said. “That’s what our military is about. We want people to be afraid of us. We want people to understand that we want peace through strength, as President Reagan said. And to get that is what you do here in Huntsville. You do it more than anybody else.”