WASHINGTON – Following a meeting between U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today joined Chuck Todd on MSNBC’s Meet the Press Daily to provide an update on his effort for Congress to impose crushing and mandatory sanctions on Russia in the event Putin further invades Ukraine. The senator also discussed the safety of American athletes competing at the 2022 Beijing Olympics and other foreign policy news of the day.
“We have the wherewithal in the sanctions bill that I've authored – and in the negotiations we're having with Republicans to come together on a different components – to speak with one voice and send a very clear message that we stand with Ukraine and there will be severe consequences, and [we have the ability] to invoke those severe consequences unilaterally,” Chairman Menendez said. “We are working as we speak with various Republican colleagues who have their own ideas as to how to deter Putin. We are looking to amalgamate [those ideas] into the legislation that I sponsored, which is also being introduced today by Chairman Meeks in the House of Representatives, so now it will be bicameral as well. … [Putin] should understand that there is overwhelming bipartisan support for Ukraine in Congress. It is strong. It's a question of whether or not you make it even stronger, whether or not you make sanctions even quicker. But at the end of the day, there is no lack of resolve. And that much Putin should know.”
On the diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Olympics and the importance of protecting American athletes:
“A diplomatic boycott means we're not sending officials of the United States government to the Olympics, but we still have a presence in China. We still have an embassy. We still have full engagement. And we will work to protect any citizen who ultimately is either harassed or detained by the Chinese,” Chairman Menendez added. “The Chinese know that… in the midst of an already rather negative Olympics – in terms of their standing in the world, what they're doing to Uyghurs in concentration camps and their violations of human rights in Hong Kong, the threats to Taiwan – the last thing they need is to detain American Olympians.”