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Condoleezza Rice says "we have to do everything we can to convince" Putin that he is wrong on Ukraine

Condoleezza Rice on U.S. aid to Ukraine
Condoleezza Rice says "we have to do everything we can to convince" Putin that he is wrong on Ukraine 08:56

Washington — Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Sunday that the United States has to do "everything we can to convince" Russian President Vladimir Putin that he is wrong in his belief that he will be victorious in his war with Ukraine.

"Vladimir Putin seems to believe the time is not on the Ukrainian side. He believes if he throws in the Russian way of war, mass at the problem, poor boys from Dagestan, who are just kind of cannon fodder, if he engages in terrorist activities against the Ukrainian population, he'll wear the Ukrainians down, he'll wear us down, he'll wear the Europeans down," Rice told "Face the Nation" in an interview. "I don't think that's right, but we have to do everything that we can to convince him that it is indeed wrong."

It has been roughly one year since Putin launched his full-scale invasion of Ukraine, across which more than 7,199 Ukrainian civilians have been killed and 11,756 have been injured, according to data from the United Nations. More than 8 million Ukrainians have fled their country and become refugees across Europe, according to U.N. data, and another 5.3 million are estimated to be internally displaced within Ukraine.

Over the course of the war, the U.S. has been the largest provider of aid to Ukraine, with the government committing more than $29.8 billion in military assistance from Jan. 24, 2022, through February 2023. 

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on "Face the Nation" on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2023. CBS News

While President Biden pledged the U.S. would continue to stand with Ukraine, and made a secret visit to Kyiv on Monday in a show of support, some Republicans in Congress and potential 2024 GOP presidential candidates, such as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, have suggested the U.S. should pull back funding. 

But looking ahead to the 2024 presidential race, Rice said it's important that whoever mounts a bid for the White House "understands the essence of this conflict."

"The fact that we are defending not just Ukrainian independence, but we are defending a rules-based system that says might doesn't make right, you can't just extinguish your neighbor," she said. "And oh, by the way, for those who would say, 'Oh, we ought to be concentrating on the Indo-Pacific, because China is really our adversary,' Xi Jinping is telling you what he thinks about that because he is not only watching what is going on in Ukraine, according to our intelligence, apparently, he's even considering getting in on the side of the Russians."

In a message to possible presidential candidates in the next election, Rice urged them to "be careful what you say."

"If the American people see a world in which Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping have won this engagement, this first volley, if you will, in the largest strategic picture, and they see that Ukrainian independence has been extinguished, and they know that the United States could have done something about it, I don't think that's going to be a very good message for a future president to have to deliver," she said. "Because that problem will come to his desk or her desk. And I just say, just remember dates 1914, 1941, 2001, these conflicts always come home."

In assessing the Biden administration's policies on Ukraine, Rice said she believes they are in the "right direction," and stressed that it's crucial for the U.S. to support the country, and do so as part of a coalition of nations as has been formed with European and NATO allies. 

But Rice encouraged the Biden administration to better anticipate what the Ukrainians needs will be to continue fighting back against Russia's aggression.

"I do think we sometimes seem to be a little bit behind in what we provide to the Ukrainians," she said. "So we were not going to provide air defenses and then we did tanks and armor, and now we have. And so, if I could say one thing, to perhaps just to anticipate a little bit better, what the Ukrainians are going to need, because it takes a long time to supply."

Rice acknowledged there are issues with stockpiles and U.S. defense capabilities, as it's unlikely "anybody expected to be fighting a land war in Europe," but said accelerating what is provided to Ukraine can be helpful. 

"I think the idea that you anticipate and therefore perhaps you start the training before it's going to be necessary to send that equipment," she said. "The one thing we know, is that this war keeps evolving, and you have to try to evolve a little bit ahead of it."

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