Sen. Rand Paul discusses Russian invasion comments, end of travel mask mandate
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Kentucky republican senator Rand Paul sat down to explain comments made during a congressional hearing about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Paul was criticized for an exchange made during Tuesday’s hearing with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, stating the U.S. had pushed Ukraine toward NATO membership, and that NATO aspirations by Ukraine may have been the cause of Russia’s invasion.
“Knowing full well that Ukraine was unlikely to ever join NATO, since it had already been 14 years since they said they were going to become members, why was it so important last fall, before this invasion, to continue agitating Ukraine’s admission to NATO,” Paul said on Tuesday.
Speaking with WAVE News on Thursday, Paul said he was trying to have a discussion about the root causes of the war and was not defending Putin’s attack in any way.
“It’s just ludicrous, because in no way, shape or form did I ever say that,” Paul said. “But I am willing to address the questions of war. It’s my job.”
Paul said he wanted to make it clear that he has no sympathy for Russia and there is “no justification” for Putin’s actions.
The senator also spoke about a national mask mandate on airplanes and mass transit after a federal judge in Florida struck down the requirement on April 18.
The Department of Justice is appealing the decision contending it’s a risk to public health.
Paul told WAVE News he had been on a plane on Monday for the first time since the mandate ended, saying most people he saw were without masks and seemed happy.
“When I looked around the airport on Monday, 97 percent of the people had chosen not to wear a mask,” Paul said. “Why? Because they’ve either been vaccinated or had the disease or both and they’ve accessed their risk to be very low.”
Paul said he would be in Louisville for the Kentucky Derby, but sidestepped around talks about a fundraiser scheduled to take place at Churchill Downs on Derby Day with former President Donald Trump in attendance.
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