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As Threat of Russian Invasion of Ukraine Looms, Menendez Leads Senate Democrats in Introducing the Defending Ukraine Sovereignty Act of 2022

Democrats Propose Comprehensive Sanctions Package to Deter Russia

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today led 38 of his Senate Democratic colleagues in introducing the Defending Ukraine Sovereignty Act of 2022, critical legislation to impose steep costs in the event of a renewed Kremlin invasion of Ukraine. As the Kremlin continues to engage in an unjustified military build-up along Ukraine’s border, the proposal by Senate Democrats to deter a military escalation sends a clear message that the United States is prepared to impose devastating consequences for Putin and the Russian economy if he goes down the path of re-invading Ukraine.

Joining Chairman Menendez in introducing the legislation were Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Senators Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Bob Casey Jr. (D-Pa.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.), Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.), and Alex Padilla (D-Calif.).

The Defending Ukraine Sovereignty Act of 2022 would impose crippling sanctions on the Russian banking sector and senior military and government officials if President Putin escalates hostile action in or against Ukraine. The bill would also prohibit transactions on Russia’s primary and secondary sovereign debt and authorize sanctions on Russia’s extractive industries as well as on providers of specialized financial messaging services (e.g., SWIFT). To help meet urgent defense needs, the legislation calls upon the Departments of Defense and State to expedite transfer of defense articles to bolster Ukraine’s defense capabilities and authorizes $500 million in supplemental emergency security assistance to Ukraine in the event of a re-invasion by Russia. Lastly, the bill also expands U.S. efforts to counter Kremlin disinformation and strengthen ties with key regional partners facing Kremlin aggression.

“This legislation makes it absolutely clear that the U.S. Senate will not stand idly by as the Kremlin threatens a re-invasion of Ukraine,” said Chairman Menendez. “As the Biden administration seeks a diplomatic path forward this week in Europe to avoid another bloody escalation in Ukraine, I find little reason to believe that Putin is negotiating in good faith nor do I believe he has any newfound respect for Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity. That is precisely why we are coming together to send a clear message—Putin need not collapse his entire economy nor does he need to sacrifice the lives of his own people in a futile attempt to rewrite the map of Europe. Ultimately the most effective sanction on Russia is a strong and unified Ukraine, and I look forward to working with my Democratic and Republican colleagues so that we can provide the people of Ukraine the type of support they need to confront the bully in Moscow.”

“Today, Vladimir Putin’s aggression is the greatest risk to the stability of Europe. Whether it is in cyberspace or as Putin orders a massive military buildup on the eastern border of Ukraine, the United States must make clear that an invasion of Ukraine will have severe consequences. Chairman Menendez’s comprehensive legislation serves as a powerful deterrent by immediately and forcefully imposing crippling sanctions on Vladimir Putin and the Russian Federation government, any Russian actors determined to be responsible for an invasion, and the corrupt infrastructure that props up Putin’s regime,” said Senate Majority Leader Schumer.

“The basic human desire to be free and democratically choose one’s leaders is apparently too much for Russian leader Vladimir Putin, who is now threatening a further massive military invasion of Ukraine.  It’s not enough that Putin denies the Russian people their basic freedoms.  He’s determined to eradicate similar aspirations on Russia’s border in a transparent scheme to protect his own undemocratic regime,” said Senator Durbin. “As such, I am proud to join Senator Menendez’s legislation that would impose historic sanctions if Russia further invades Ukraine.  The bill’s approach is sweeping and clear. It also includes a notable provision to provide greater economic and security support to the Baltic states, including as Lithuania continues to face considerable economic and diplomatic coercion from China.”

“There is no question about Russia’s malign intentions regarding Ukraine, and the Kremlin cannot dictate the desire of the Ukrainian people to live in a more open, peaceful and just society,” said Senator Cardin. “This bill will make it clear that there will be significant costs to Russia in terms of sanctions should the Kremlin decide to escalate hostilities with Ukraine. We cannot waiver in our resolve to defend Ukraine from Kremlin aggression.”  

“We need legislation that addresses the political situation we face today in response to increasing Russian aggression – not last year or two years ago. The dynamics changed and so must our strategy. That is what this bill would do,” said Senator Shaheen. “There is no question that there is a bipartisan determination in the United States to stop the Nord Stream 2 pipeline from becoming operational and used as a weapon by Putin against our European allies. This legislation upholds that resolve without undermining the diplomatic progress being made. Moreover, it would empower the administration with real teeth to inflict punitive damage against the Kremlin, enhance regional partnerships and bolster military aid for Ukraine to best defend itself. Putin’s escalatory behavior against Ukraine and other American partners in Eastern Europe demands that we evolve our response – we cannot use yesterday’s plans for crises we face today.”

“We have a window of opportunity to use deterrence and diplomacy to help Ukraine defend its sovereignty,” said Senator Coons. “This bill would expedite assistance to Ukraine, counter Russian disinformation, and impose punishing sanctions should Russia choose to invade its neighbor. I look forward to working with my colleagues to advance this important bill through the legislative process.” 

“The Senate has wasted a lot of time talking about proposals that will do nothing to change Russia’s behavior. This bill offers real solutions intended to deter Russia from further aggression, while also countering their misinformation efforts throughout the region and increasing security assistance to Ukraine. This is the best course for U.S. national security interests,” said Senator Murphy.

“Ukraine is a free and sovereign nation, and its people have the right to live without fear of invasion and subjugation by regional bullies like Russia,” said Senator Kaine. “President Putin should know by now that the U.S., along with our NATO and European allies, will always stand with our democratic partners. This legislation provides the Biden administration additional tools and support to check Russian aggression against Ukraine, and facilitate a peaceful de-escalation of tensions along the Russia-Ukraine border.” 

“Russia must see that there will be a strong and coordinated response to any further aggression towards Ukraine,” said Senator Markey. “While making clear the consequences of blatant and unwarranted aggression by Russia, the United States and our allies should continue to press for de-escalation in the region. This legislation will work in concert with the actions the Biden administration has already taken to demonstrate that we will continue to support Ukraine and its sovereignty.”

“Russia must understand that any further aggression against Ukraine will be met by severe penalties. The triggering of comprehensive and coordinated sanctions can be an effective means of deterrence. This bill makes crystal clear in advance that Putin and Russia will face punishing consequences if he makes the drastic miscalculation to invade Ukraine and further infringe on its sovereignty,” said Senator Van Hollen.

“As Russia continues its aggression towards Ukraine, we must take action to show our unwavering support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and right to independence. I’m proud to join Senator Menendez in introducing the Defending Ukraine Sovereignty Act, which will hold Russia accountable with tough, comprehensive sanctions if the Kremlin reinvades or escalates hostilities against our Ukrainian partners,” said Senator Carper.

“The bellicose actions and rhetoric that we have seen from Vladimir Putin in recent months represent the latest in a long string of offensive actions by the Russian President. Russia’s armed buildup around Ukraine – on top of their continued occupation of eastern Ukraine and Crimea – represents a serious threat not just to Ukraine, but to the broader peace and stability of Europe, and of the world,” said Senator Warner. “This bill reinforces the message that the Biden administration must be conveying to Russia in face-to-face meetings this week – that accelerated aggression towards Ukraine will only strengthen U.S. assistance for our Ukrainian partners, reinvigorate NATO’s collective defense posture, and bring about devastating consequences for the Russian economy.

“Putin’s attempt to undermine Ukrainian democracy and sovereignty is unacceptable,” said Senator Bennet. “Our bill outlines comprehensive and severe consequences, including crippling sanctions, for any further aggression. We must continue to strengthen ties with our regional allies and partners to ensure freedom and stability in Ukraine and across Europe, as well as support the Ukrainian people’s desire for democracy.”

"It's critical to our national interest that the United States stands with its friends and allies against authoritarian aggression. I am supporting this legislation because it is necessary to address Russia’s continued encroachment into Ukraine and hold them accountable. It sets clear guidelines for broad sanctions while providing needed assistance to Ukraine. I believe it is the right approach to strengthen U.S. ties with key regional partners,” said Senator Gillibrand.

“This bill would impose crippling, crushing sanctions if Russia acts on its threats to invade Ukraine. We cannot stand idly by while Russia threatens a sovereign neighbor with military force. Strong, targeted measures to deter unprovoked aggression must be taken,” said Senator Blumenthal

“Russian aggression against Ukraine must be met with severe consequences. We also must remain committed to our Transatlantic unity and stand united against Russian threats to the security and sovereignty of Ukraine and the region. I am proud to support this bill as it sends Russia a clear message: escalate hostilities against Ukraine and face crippling sanctions on a wide range of sectors, including the energy industry and the Nord Stream 2 pipeline,” said Senator Heinrich.

"We need to be clear-eyed about the threat Russia poses and this bill takes meaningful steps to counter Russian aggression and stand with our partners in Eastern Europe. As we continue to see tensions rise on the Ukrainian-Russian border, the U.S. must make sure that Ukraine can defend itself and that we stand against any threat of invasion by Russia,” said Senator Hassan.

Find a copy of the bill text HERE.

The Defending Ukraine Sovereignty Act

Mandatory and Additional Sanctions in the Event of Renewed Invasion: If an affirmative determination made by the president that Russia has engaged in a renewed invasion or escalation of hostilities, the Defending Ukraine Sovereignty Act triggers a cascade of mandatory sanctions on Russia’s political and military leadership, financial institutions, extractive industries, and Nord Stream 2, outlined below.

  • Presidential Determination on Renewed Invasion or Escalation in Hostilities. Requires a Presidential determination as to whether the Russian government is engaged in or knowingly supporting a significant escalation in hostilities against Ukraine and whether the aim or effect of the escalation is to overthrow or dismantle the government of Ukraine, occupy Ukraine’s territory, or interfere with its territorial integrity.
  • Mandatory Sanctions on Officials: Requires sanctions on list of officials including President Putin, the Prime Minister, Foreign Minister, Minister of Defense, Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces, and commanders of various branches of the armed forces, including the airborne and naval forces.
  • Mandatory Sanctions on Financial Institutions: Requires the President to impose sanctions on three or more financial institutions from the following: Sberbank, VTB, Gazprombank, VEB.RF, The Russian Direct Investment Fund, Credit Bank of Moscow, Alfa Bank, Rosselkhozbank, FC Bank Otkritie, Promsvyazbank, Sovcombank, and Transkapitalbank.
  • SWIFT: Authorizes sanctions on providers of specialized financial messaging services (e.g., SWIFT), and requires reporting on efforts to terminate services for sanctioned Russian financial institutions.
  • Sovereign Debt: Prohibits transactions on primary and secondary Russian sovereign debt.
  • Additional Sanctions: Requires the President to identify and sanction sectors and industries the President determines should be sanctioned in the interest of United States national security, including oil and gas extraction and production; coal extraction, mining, and production; and minerals extraction and processing.
  • Nord Stream 2: Expresses the sense of Congress that Nord Stream 2 is a tool of malign influence of the Russian Federation, and that the United States should consider should consider all available and appropriate measures to prevent the Nord Stream 2 pipeline from becoming operational, and directs the administration to review its prior waiver of Nord Stream 2 in light of the Kremlin’s military buildup and aggression towards Ukraine.
  • Waivers and Exceptions: Provides the President with a national security waiver and provides the standard exceptions for authorized intelligence activities, compliance with international obligations, and law enforcement activities.

Expediting Security Assistance to Ukraine

  • Bolstering Ukraine’s Defenses: Directs State and DOD to develop a strategy to bolster Ukraine’s defense capabilities and enhance the delivery of security assistance to Ukraine, including meeting Ukraine’s most critical needs and coordinating with allies in providing immediate assistance to Ukraine.
  • Expediting Delivery of Defense Articles: Authorizes DOD and State to expedite procurement and delivery of defense articles and services for Ukraine, including through utilizing lease authority and the Special Defense Acquisition Fund.
  • Supplemental Security Assistance: Authorizes $500 million in supplemental emergency security assistance to Ukraine in the event Russia re-invades for fiscal year 2022 and authorizes $3 million international military and education training for Ukraine. Also makes clear that the U.S. should continue to provide robust security assistance to Ukraine in the meantime. 
  • Report on Increased Security Assistance to Ukraine: Requires a report on the security assistance and provision of defense articles provided to Ukraine by the United States and allies since Russia’s military buildup.

Countering Kremlin Aggression against Ukraine and Eastern European Allies

  • Combating Kremlin Disinformation: Directs State to use the Countering Russian Influence Fund to prioritize assisting Ukraine in combatting Russian disinformation.
  • Expanded Support for RFE/RL: Directs Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty to improve its reach to audiences on the periphery of Russia, authorizes the exploration of opening new bureaus to reach new audiences in the Eurasia region and encourages RFE/RL to evaluate where Russian information is most deeply pervasive in the Eurasia region.
  • Baltic Security and Economic Enhancement Initiative: Creates a new initiative to deepen security and economic ties with the Baltic states, including promoting the Baltic states’ resiliency against hybrid warfare, increasing interoperability with NATO forces, bolstering support for the Baltic region’s physical and energy security needs, and mitigating Russian and Chinese economic coercion against Baltic states.
  • European Security: Expresses the sense of Congress that the United States should work closely with NATO allies and the OSCE in any discussions on European security, and requires the Secretary of State to submit a strategy to Congress on future formats to discuss European security, including an assessment of whether Russia has sufficiently de-escalated tensions to merit such discussions.
  • Report on Russian Intelligence Services Destabilizing Ukraine: Requires a report on the role of Russian intelligence and security services in undermining Ukrainian independence and engaging in destabilizing activity.
  • Public Disclosure of Putin’s Assets and Financial Practices: Requires an accounting and disclosure on the net worth, assets, and financial practices of Vladimir Putin and his inner circle, and their family members, including a public disclosure of the unclassified details.