Alabama Republican Sen. Tommy Tuberville recently asserted on a conservative political talk show that Russian President Vladimir Putin is not actually interested in his country invading its neighbor Ukraine.

Tuberville, who sits on the Senate Committee on Armed Services, said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is a “dictator” and argued that Putin “doesn’t want Ukraine” during a recent discussion on commentator Steve Bannon’s show.

“He doesn’t want Ukraine. He doesn’t want Europe. He’s got enough land of his own,” Tuberville said. “He just wants to make sure that he does not have United States weapons in Ukraine pointing at Moscow.”

While Ukraine has used American weapons to strike inside Russia in recent days, according to The Associated Press, which cited a U.S. senator and a Western official, Tuberville’s comments come in stark contrast to what Ukraine and its allies, including the U.S., have repeatedly articulated for years — that Russia’s invasion in early 2022 and its continued aggression in Ukraine’s sovereign territory are at fault for the ongoing conflict.

Tuberville, in response to a question on whether he believed Russia would give up Ukrainian territory that it took as a step toward achieving peace, added the suggestion that Ukraine holds responsibility to come to the table to bring an end to the violence.

“It’s a scary state of affairs when a U.S. senator, who sits on the Armed Services Committee, would rather spew Russian propaganda than listen to our U.S. intelligence,” New Hampshire Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen said on social media.

Tuberville is no stranger to garnering criticism over his military-related comments. Last year, the college football coach-turned-senator received pressure across the political aisle for a months-long hold on senior U.S. military promotions over objections to the Pentagon’s abortion access policy.

White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said U.S. President Joe Biden would be meeting with Zelenskyy in France during his trip to mark the 80th anniversary of the D-Day invasion. Tuberville is also scheduled to attend commemoration events for the anniversary as a part of a bipartisan Senate delegation.

Jonathan is a staff writer and editor of the Early Bird Brief newsletter for Military Times. Follow him on Twitter @lehrfeld_media

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