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Arizona congressman says Ukraine peace talks a sign that Putin's worried, but warns of pain for U.S. consumers

Congressman Ruben Gallego says $5-per-gallon gas and cyber attacks by Russia are possibilities as invasion enters Day 4.

PHOENIX — Arizona Congressman Ruben Gallego said planned peace talks between Ukrainian and Russian officials are a positive development on Day 4 of Vladimir Putin's invasion of his western neighbor.

"I think Putin's trying to find a way out," Gallego, a four-term Phoenix Democrat, said in an interview Sunday on "Sunday Square Off."

"The fact that Russia has agreed to no preconditions on this tells you that likely Putin and Putin's inner circle believe that the war is not going the way they thought it would be."

But Gallego also warned that Americans should brace for higher gas prices and possible cyber attacks by Russian actors, as Putin lashes out.

$5 gas at the pump?

"I think you'll see five-dollar gas at the pump and I think you'll see cyberattacks," Gallego said. 

But he added: "(Putin) could do cyber hacks, but at the same time you still have to worry about your own population being really mad at you because the ruble is about to drop."

New economic sanctions slapped on Russia by Western nations are expected to send the value of the ruble crashing, driving up the cost of everything for Russian consumers.

There were reports Sunday that Russians were lining up at ATMs to withdraw money ahead of the currency markets' opening Monday.

So far, the West's sanctions have not targeted Russia's largest source of revenue - oil and natural gas exports.  Last week, crude oil prices soared to their highest level in eight years after the Russian invasion.

"My guess is Putin will find a graceful way out of this within the next two weeks," Gallego said.

Gallego is a member of the House Armed Services Committee and a Marine veteran of the Iraq War.

Gallego called for aid in December

Back in December, Gallego led a congressional delegation to Ukraine. Afterward, he urged President Joe Biden to move faster on sending military aid to Ukraine.

Gallego told CNN during his December trip that Ukraine's military needed weapons that "will actually put a toll on the Russian troop movements and, you know, unfortunately, that means we have to kill some Russians." 

Russians "only understand pure power, and we have to give the Ukrainian army and special forces the ability to do that," Gallego said.

Why did Ducey defend Rogers?

Also on "Square Off":

Why did Ducey defend Rogers? Our panel of political insiders Chad Campbell and Paul Bentz discuss Gov. Doug Ducey's thinking in defending state Sen. Wendy Rogers, who's embraced white nationalists since Ducey helped get her elected in 2020. 

The panel also discusses: Why a powerful Capitol Republican is standing up to Trump supporters, how much time Ducey has left to decide on a U.S. Senate run, and how the turmoil in Maricopa County  Attorney Allister Adel's office will come to end.

Moment of truth for elections bills: The Arizona Agenda's Hank Stephenson explains why elections-related bills that would radically change how we vote face a major hurdle this week at the state Capitol. Do the bills have enough Republican votes for passage in the Senate, where the GOP has a slim one-vote majority?

"Sunday Square Off" airs at 8 a.m. Sundays on 12 News, after NBC's "Meet the Press" with Chuck Todd.

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