McConnell putting 'main part of my focus' on opposing Russia in Ukraine: 'A worldwide problem for democracies'


Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said in a local radio interview Monday that he is putting “the main part of my focus in the coming years” on opposing Russia in Ukraine, noting that it is “a worldwide problem for democracies.” 

Though he will not seek a Senate leadership role again, McConnell told NewsRadio 840 WHAS host Terry Meiners that he would continue to serve in the Senate through his whole term and will continue fighting against the “isolationist movement” in his own party and others, adding that “a symbol of that lately is that, are we going to help Ukraine or not?” 

“I think it’s extremely important that we do that. I’m not particularly a fan of the Biden administration, particularly the decision to run out of Afghanistan, which is like sending Putin a green light, but we are where we are, and the Europeans have stepped up,” McConnell said. Most of the money that we are authorizing is being spent in this country, some of it in Kentucky, because we needed to rebuild our industrial base for what lies ahead with Russia, and now China as a national security problem. So I’ve got this sort of on my mind for the next couple of years.” 

McConnell said global democracy is in a precarious position, and not just as a result of terrorism experienced on 9/11 and beyond or the current Israel-Hamas war.

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Mitch McConnell at congressional medal ceremony

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said he would not pursue a Senate leadership role following the November 2024 elections. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

“In addition to the terrorist threats, we have big power competition. The Russians have become like the old Soviet Union. The Chinese – who are tough commercial competitors – have now become national security problems as well. It’s time for the democratic world to be unified,” McConnell said. 

“This is a worldwide problem for democracies, and they need our leadership, and we need their partnership, and so that’s where I’m going to put the main part of my focus in the coming years.” 

McConnell categorized his fellow U.S. senator from Kentucky, Rand Paul, also a Republican, as an “isolationist.” 

Rand Paul speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill

Sen. Rand Paul speaks to reporters as he arrives for a vote in the U.S. Capitol on March 14, 2024. (Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

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Paul has argued that the United States has no national security interest in Ukraine, and that it is not the United States’ role to defend Ukraine against its “longtime adversary.” 

“We’re not losing any of our troops,” McConnell countered during the radio interview. “The Ukrainians are the ones doing the fighting. If the Russians take Ukraine, some NATO country will be next, and then we will be right in the middle of it. So, I think on the fact basis, this is absolutely what we ought to do, and we just disagree on this.” 

Putin in Moscow

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks in Moscow on April 2, 2024. (Contributor/Getty Images)

“I’m going to concentrate, as I’ve said, inside on this isolationist issue, and outside on trying to get us to the majority in the Senate,” McConnell added. 

“Do you feel like there’s an end in sight for the Ukraine battle?” the host asked the senator. 

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“It’s very, very important. I think this is the most dangerous time for the free world since right after the Berlin Wall fell down,” McConnell said. “People have always been reluctant. My party tends to be isolationist when there’s a Democrat in the White House. You know most Republicans voted against Lend-Lease going into World War II, and Pearl Harbor straightened that out.” 



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