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Putin aims to 'legalize presence' of Russian troops in Ukraine, honorary consul says

"If Putin keeps setting up his rules, his agenda, there will be a full-blown invasion," said honorary Ukrainian Consul Valeriy Goloborodko.
Credit: AP Photo/Sergei Grits
Ukrainians gather for "Mariupol is Ukraine" in Mariupol, Ukraine, Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2022. Russian lawmakers on Tuesday authorized President Vladimir Putin to use military force outside the country — a move that could presage a broader attack on Ukraine after the U.S. said an invasion was already underway there.

SEATTLE — The honorary Ukrainian consul for Seattle said Russian President Vladimir Putin's goal is to legalize the presence of his troops in the region.

"He's invading Ukraine and he is putting his plans on the table right now," said Valeriy Goloborodko. "He's trying to legalize for his people, not for Ukraine, not for United States."

Putin on Monday authorized the use of Russian troops to enter two areas of Eastern Ukraine which he has deemed as independent.

But the White House has labeled the exercise as an invasion, and a reason to levy sanctions against Russia and Putin's allies as a way to ramp up the pressure for a diplomatic solution. 

"(President Biden) is going to go after the banking system in Russia," said Sen. Maria Cantwell, (D-Wash.), during a quick stop in Tacoma on Tuesday. 

The senator deflected criticism that Biden has not acted quick enough, arguing that Europe and the United States speaking together against the move by Russia is "a helpful tool."

"The (Nord Stream 2) pipeline is a really big deal and so that the European's voice about that, they will not allow the completion of that pipeline if Russian invades Ukraine," said Cantwell. "That's as powerful a stick as you can get as it relates to what Russia would like to do moving forward in Europe."

Goloborodko said he remains anxious for his family in Ukraine, and the tens of thousands of Ukrainian Americans living in Washington state.  

"(Putin) is a kind of person who likes opportunity and symbolism. 2022 marks 100 years since the establishment of the Soviet Union and this kind of symbolism is very important to him," Goloborodko said. "If Putin keeps setting up his rules, his agenda, there will be a full-blown invasion. Then, we will see a war in the middle of Europe, one that nobody wants, and for sure Ukrainians don't want."

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