**ICYMI** In The Economist Op-Ed, Chairman Menendez Says the Work of Helping Ukraine Has Only Just Begun
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today published a guest essay in The Economist regarding the United States and international community’s support for President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and the people of Ukraine as they defend their sovereign territory and confront the brutality of Russia’s war. Find the op-ed in full HERE and below.
Senator Bob Menendez says that the work of helping Ukraine has only just begun
Vladimir Putin must be held accountable for victimising the Ukrainian people, argues the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee
THE WORLD has witnessed the atrocities Russian forces have perpetrated in the town of Bucha. Bodies of local civilians were strewn across the streets, executed with their hands tied behind their backs. People returning home discovered mass graves of innocent civilians with shoes and hands sticking out of the mud. From the city of Mariupol, we have heard horrific stories of starving civilians and blocked humanitarian corridors. The Russian siege there has left a landscape of smoking rubble and charred apartment blocks.
As reports that Vladimir Putin’s army is using sexual violence as a weapon of war proliferate, a massive refugee and food-security crisis continues to unfold. Meanwhile, a recalcitrant Mr Putin recently launched a full-scale attack in eastern Ukraine. America and the international community must continue to do everything possible to support President Volodymyr Zelensky and the democratically elected government of Ukraine as they defend their people and sovereign territory and confront the brutality of Russia’s war.
This critical support starts with delivering arms that Ukraine needs right now, and can effectively use, while also planning for broader future needs to counter Russia’s changing strategies. Building and producing military equipment takes time, so we must also work to ensure we are well-stocked with the right weapons including, but not limited to, air defence, communication tools, and munitions to avoid supply-chain shocks and production bottlenecks for when emergency security needs arise, as they have in Ukraine.
Russian airstrikes also threaten land- and air-supply routes, putting enormous pressure on our NATO partner, Poland, which shares a border with Ukraine and is the best option for sending assistance. We must continue our efforts to strengthen Polish defences as arms shipments and other support continue to be supplied to Ukraine.
We must be united and resolute: if Russia directly attacks Poland, the Baltic States, or any other NATO member, we will stand firm in our commitment to defend every inch of NATO territory, and our allies’ arms depots will need to be fully supplied to respond to attacks.
Meanwhile, we must continue to apply additional pressure on Mr Putin where we can and fill in any gaps in sanctions imposed by the United States, the European Union and other partners and allies around the world. We should target the assets of oligarchs and Kremlin officials and their family members that have not yet been frozen and close off avenues for Russian companies or banks that continue to generate revenue, particularly targeting funds that go to Russia’s military-industrial base. Similarly, we must scrutinise any individual, entity or country that seeks to help Mr Putin escape consequences by circumventing sanctions. They should face additional penalties.
Russia has entrenched itself both in Europe’s economy and the broader global markets, and we must have a long-term strategy for sanctions enforcement that is co-ordinated with our allies and ensure we have alternative paths forward.
Pursuing viable alternatives is especially important when it comes to energy security. As Europe tightens sanctions, America should look at rerouting emergency fuel supplies, like oil and liquefied natural gas, to help in the short term.
We should also provide technical assistance for energy-infrastructure development in the years to come. That could include EU-Ukrainian-Moldovan grid synchronisation and expanding the Development Finance Corporation’s lending criteria to better counter Moscow’s aggression. In the long term, the best way for Europe to free itself from dependence on Russian energy supplies is to prioritise investments that advance Europe’s domestic energy resource-mobilisation and expedite the reduction (with the ultimate aim of elimination) of fossil-fuel consumption.
To tackle the unfolding humanitarian crisis, we must continue to ramp up assistance inside Ukraine and ensure adequate resources for neighbouring countries that are hosting countless refugees. The Biden administration has signalled it will resettle 100,000 Ukrainians, particularly those hoping to reunite with family already in the United States. But we also need clear, well-funded pathways for vulnerable Ukrainians—including LGBTQI+ individuals—so they too can quickly find safe haven.
America and the international community must strengthen our response to gender-based violence, integrating protection of women and girls into the broader international assistance both inside and outside Ukraine. That includes prevention of human trafficking, adequate maternal health care and other sexual and reproductive services, as well as psychosocial assistance for coping with traumas related to family separation, displacement and sexual assault.
Beyond Ukraine’s borders, the dramatic increases in the prices of staple goods such as grain, fuel, and fertiliser mean we also need comprehensive legislation that lays out a global food-security strategy and addresses the secondary impacts of this crisis, including immediate relief efforts for some of the countries whose people will suffer most.
Russia has obliterated Ukraine’s economic infrastructure because Mr Putin wants to wreck the country’s eligibility for EU integration and membership. That is why we should use every tool we have to help rebuild Ukraine’s infrastructure and restart its economy.
How do we pay for this? To start, Russia should not have access to its blocked assets until it reaches an agreement to pay for reconstruction of Ukraine.
Additionally, financing mechanisms from organisations such as the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development should play a role with debt restructuring and payment deferrals, as well as emergency-liquidity financing and reform support.
We must also provide assistance through our own institutions and agencies. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is already working to provide support to the agricultural sector. The Development Finance Corporation can provide immediate support to sectors of the Ukrainian economy that need it most.
Finally, America must lead the international community in holding President Putin accountable for his brutal victimisation of the Ukrainian people. Delivering justice—collecting evidence, securing an indictment, holding a fair trial—is hard, time-consuming work. Despite these hurdles, we must hold Mr Putin and others responsible for these horrific war crimes. His autocratic regime cannot be allowed to destroy a democratic nation with impunity. Our work to help Ukraine has just begun.
Bob Menendez, a Democrat, represents New Jersey in the U.S. Senate. He is chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
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