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Chairman Menendez on CNN: “The United States has to make it very clear to Putin that the consequences begin now”

WASHINGTONU.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today joined John King on CNN to discuss the latest developments regarding Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and his expectations for a strong response from the United States and Europe.

On anticipated additional U.S. sanctions against Russia:

“I think they need to be severe sanctions. I think we can stop equivocating as to whether we have an invasion or not. I think the west—the United States—has to make it very clear to Putin that the consequences begin now. And for me, that means taking, for example, the waivers off of Nord Stream 2 so that it is officially dead. It means sanctioning Russian banks. It means sanctioning Russian oligarchs that are holding Putin's monies. It also means sanctioning Russian sovereign debt. Those are just some of the beginning salvos that need to be imposed…and I hope they will be done multilaterally because, unless the west acts resolutely, strongly and decisively this time, we will have a repeat of 2008 and 2014 with Putin.”

“I think you should use the overwhelming amount of [sanctions] now. You may reserve something like what I call the ‘mother of all sanctions,’ unplugging Russia from the SWIFT financial system. But at the end of the day, when is it that we’re going to be clear to Putin that there are severe consequences for what he’s doing? When he takes another bite after this bite?” Chairman Menendez said. “The bottom line is, you need to be overwhelming in the response…so he understands there’s real consequences. Otherwise he’ll continue to calibrate in a way he thinks he can get away with.”


On Russian forces’ advancement into Ukraine:

“I am convinced that there are more Russian forces today than there were yesterday. And we have to stop playing with the idea that irregular forces—those that may not have the Russian patch on them—ultimately means they’re not Russian. They are,” Chairman Menendez said. “Putin has told the world what he’s going to do. He’s told us he is going to recognize these areas. The next thing is annexation of these areas and then he’s going to do that by force. I don't know what we need to wait for. What we can’t have here is another Munich moment. And the West has to decide whether it’s going to allow more and more European land to be taken over by force or whether we are going to stand up to Putin.”