HAMPTON — While visiting NASA Langley Research Center today (Feb. 24), Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), chairman of the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, provided comment regarding the recent Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Last night (Feb. 23), Russia launched a large, sweeping invasion of Ukraine, described by Ukrainian leaders as a “full-scale attack” by Russia. This was followed by reports of dozens killed within the first several hours of the attack. Most recently it was reported that Russian forces have seized the Chernobyl site, which was the stage for a disastrous nuclear accident in 1986.
Today, Sen. Warner visited NASA Langley Research Center, along with other members of Virginia’s Congressional Delegation, in recognition of Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day. The event also honored Hidden Figure Dr. Christine Darden, who was also in attendance.
However, the timbre of the event turned solemn when Sen. Warner was asked to comment regarding the invasion of Ukraine.
He said, “Our intelligence committee has been spot on in predicting this crisis… We knew virtually to the day that Russia was going to launch its attack.” He described the unusually transparent Select Committee on Intelligence, of which he is the chairman of, as having knowledge that Russian would deploy said troops while also broadcasting footage containing, what Warner described as, staged Russian cadavers.
Sen. Warner noted that not only have European allies vowed to stand with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and Ukraine, but so have other countries such as Japan and Australia. This includes providing armaments to Ukrainians in order to defend themselves.
He also noted a series of additional sanctions on Russia that were announced by President Joe Biden this afternoon. This includes freezing every Russian asset. Biden said of the sanctions during a press conference, “This is going to impose severe cost on the Russian economy, both immediately and over time.”
Sen. Warner spoke on two matters of particular concern regarding possible cyber attacks. He said that Russia has already committed cyber attacks against Ukraine, which have impacted both Latvia and Lithuania. The concern, that in the next 24 to 36 hours, is that these cyber attacks would begin to impact other neighboring nations such as Poland, thus violating NATO Article 5, which states that if one NATO ally is the victim of an attack, every member of NATO is to consider it as an attack on themselves.
Additionally, in the next 72 hours or more, the concern will continue to focus on possible broader cyber attacks, of which Warner described Russia as having thousands of cyber tools at its disposal to deploy.
Sen. Warner said, “We are in uncharted territory. We need to take down Putin.”
NASA Administrator William “Bill” Nelson assured event attendees that American astronauts and Russian cosmonauts currently serving aboard the International Space Station will continue to conduct themselves with professionalism.
Military troops from in and around the Historic Triangle are currently engaged in efforts overseas that could be impacted by Russia’s invasion.
WYDaily will continue to follow this story as more information becomes available.