ORLANDO, Florida—A week before the first Russian boots set foot on Ukrainian soil, Rep. Mark Green flew to Ukraine to get a sense of how things were going, and how America could best help.

“When I was there, the mood was very positive and energetic. They felt like they were going to fight,” said Green, R-Tenn. in an interview Saturday at the Conservative Political Action Conference. “These people love their country. They love freedom. Even the Russian speakers, contrary to what [Russian President] Vladimir Putin is putting out there, are saying, ‘We’re going to fight.'”

Green thinks that fight is going surprisingly well, given the smaller Ukrainian forces facing the Russian juggernaut. Green cites the bravery and courage of the Ukrainians fighting for their homes and homeland as the reason why they are faring so well.

“I’ve been really surprised with how poorly the Russians have done and you can credit that to the hard fighting spirit of the Ukrainian people, but at the same time, the Russians have not impressed,” Green said.

Green himself is no stranger to war. He served in both Afghanistan and Iraq and was part of Operation Red Dawn, the mission that captured Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

When asked what war held in store for the Ukrainian people, Green responded:

A lot of pain and suffering, and moments of sheer terror complemented by moments of belly laughter. War is a very interesting thing and you become so close with the people you’re doing it with. You fire that rocket and it hits your target and you have a high-five and then return fire comes in and you’re scared to death.

And I mean, the emotional roller coaster that you’re on is just … It’s really hard to describe to anyone who’s never done it, but they’re dealing with all of that now.

Green then talked about how the Ukrainian leadership has stood firm against Russian forces instead of fleeing the country or hiding away. He praised the Ukrainian people for choosing to fight this battle for themselves instead of relying on others to do it for them.

“We were like, ‘We don’t believe we’re going to commit American troops.’ And they said, ‘We don’t want American troops. We’ll fight, give us the weapons and we’ll fight them,’” said Green.

Green then added, “That’s been their sentiment for decades, but unfortunately, when [Joe] Biden was vice president, [the Obama administration] did nothing but send blankets and even Democrat congressmen are now saying the real weakness toward Ukraine began under the Obama administration.”

Green thinks that the Biden administration has continued the failures of the Obama administration toward Russia and Ukraine.

“President Biden’s response has been abysmal,” said Green. “He [side-stepped] his sanctions and he still hasn’t executed crippling sanctions, as he talked about. And that [side-step] method has emboldened Putin.”

Green continued, “The happiest man in America right now is Jimmy Carter. He’s no longer the worst president in American history.”

Green concluded by saying the eyes of the world are watching America’s response to the Ukrainian crisis, and that no one is more interested in how we respond than our enemies abroad.

“Weakness is provocative,” said Green. “All the despots are going to take advantage. This is just hurting us all the way around.”

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