On prospects of a bipartisan agreement for crippling sanctions package: “We are on the one yard line… This is a comprehensive and powerful approach that says to Putin, you have a choice: diplomacy or conflict. If it’s conflict, you’ll pay a devastating price.”
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today joined join Dana Bash on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday morning newsmaker show to discuss Kremlin aggression against Ukraine and the latest on his effort for Congress to pass comprehensive, bipartisan legislation that would impose crushing sanctions on Vladimir Putin and the Russian economy in the event of a re-invasion of Ukraine. Committee Ranking Member Jim Risch (R-Idaho) also joined the conversation.
On status of negotiations with Senate Republicans following introduction of Chairman Menendez’s Defending Ukraine Sovereignty Act of 2022:
“I believe that we will get there and have been working in good faith. We’ve been accommodating different views, and we are committed jointly in a bipartisan way to defend Ukraine and send Putin a message: [A re-invasion of Ukraine] will be bloody and consequential,” Chairman Menendez said. “Senator Risch and I have been working with our staffs and colleagues, a bipartisan coalition both on the Foreign Relations Committee and members off of the Committee in an intensive effort over the last week. I would describe it as we are on the one yard line and hope we can conclude successfully. What there is no doubt of is there’s an incredible bipartisan resolve for support of Ukraine and incredibly strong bipartisan resolve to have severe consequences for Russia if it invades Ukraine, and in some cases for what it has already done… These are sanctions beyond any that we have ever levied before, and I think that will send a very clear message.”
On keeping all sanctions on the table:
“I believe all options need to be on the table. The president can exert [the option to cut Russian banks off from SWIFT] or can target against very significant Russian banks, which would have a crippling effect on Russia’s economy,” Chairman Menendez said. “I believe giving the president the total arsenal of tools – sanctions, the expedited delivery of lethal weapons, the ability to deal with the misinformation that Russia is generating, the cyber-attacks. All that is envisioned in our legislation, which is a comprehensive and powerful approach that says to Putin, you have a choice: diplomacy or conflict. If it’s conflict, you’ll pay a devastating price.”
On need for the U.S. to support Ukraine and stand up to Russian aggression:
“This is beyond Ukraine, although we certainly and dramatically support Ukraine. We cannot have a Munich moment again,” Chairman Menendez said. “Putin will not stop with Ukraine if he believes that the west will not respond. We saw what he did in 2008 in Georgia. We saw what he did in 2014 in pursuit of Crimea. He will not stop. So at the end of the day, this is about defending Ukraine, but also about sending a message: you cannot by force change the boundaries of a country. You cannot by force tell them they cannot look westward.”