WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, released the following statement Wednesday:
“Russia clearly has no interest in counterterrorism cooperation, humanitarian relief, or political progress in Syria, evidenced by their direct and indirect actions that have killed civilians and humanitarian aid workers, destroyed hospitals, schools, and other infrastructure, and enabled the Assad regime to pursue a course of action that will only deepen the lines of conflict in Syria. Putin has also gone a step further and suspended Russia’s participation in the U.S.-Russia Plutonium Management and Disposition Agreement, which has helped both countries reduce weapons-grade plutonium.
“Through its words and deeds, it appears Vladimir Putin’s Russia is not a partner for peace.
“Last month, I welcomed Secretary Kerry’s announcement regarding the latest ceasefire attempt in Syria, but voiced skepticism about Russia’s willingness and capability to uphold its obligations for a Cessation of Hostilities. Taking stock of their actions over the last month, my skepticism was well-founded.
“Secretary Kerry is to be commended for his tireless pursuit of political and humanitarian solutions to create the space for peace, but now the United States must revisit its overall approach to Russia.
“If Russia seeks any semblance of credible leadership on the world stage, it should first abide by its commitments. Unfortunately, its actions in Syria and with respect to the plutonium agreement indicate little regard for constructive engagement with the international community.
“There should be consequences for Russia’s actions. I will continue to explore options the Congress can employ to hold Russia accountable for its repeated violations of international law and human rights, including their attacks on our democratic institutions in the United States.”