WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today joined Hallie Jackson on MSNBC to discuss progress in bipartisan negotiations for a comprehensive sanctions package to deter the Kremlin from re-invading Ukraine and other foreign policy news of the day.
On status of negotiations with bipartisan negotiations following introduction of Chairman Menendez’s Defending Ukraine Sovereignty Act of 2022:
“We have been working diligently around the clock to get to a bipartisan package. I’m cautiously optimistic that we will, and I think that what we heard today at the briefing dictates the urgency of now,” Chairman Menendez said. “So the reality is, is that us coming together with a strong, bipartisan package that would provide crippling sanctions to Russia if, in fact, they did invade, and to sanction up front some of the things they have already done like false flag operations, trying to destabilize the Ukrainian government and other things, are important as well. I think we’re very close, and I look forward to being able to join with Senator Risch, the Ranking Member, to let everybody know what we were able to accomplish.”
“I don’t like to call them pre-invasion sanctions, because that suggests this is in fact vis-à-vis the invasion,” Chairman Menendez added when pressed about the possibility for pre-invasion sanctions to be included in a bipartisan agreement. “These are sanctions for malign actions that Russia and malign actors have already taken. Having said that, if there is a [national security] waiver for the president, I am fine with that. I think he will want to impose. In fact, this administration has already imposed some sanctions on Ukrainian individuals who were working with the Russians to undermine the Ukrainian government.”
On the Biden administration’s declassification of intelligence regarding the Kremlin’s efforts to stage a false attack and create a pretext for a re-invasion of Ukraine:
“First of all, I applaud the Administration for declassifying and making it public to the world. We need to keep exposing Putin for what he is: the aggressor here,” Chairman Menendez said. “He is trying to create some set of circumstances so that he can claim the right to invade Ukraine. There will never be a right to invade Ukraine. You will always be the aggressor, President Putin, and that’s how history will judge you.”
On the United States’ raid in Syria and killing of ISIS leader Abu Ibrahim al-Hashemi al-Qurayshi:
“I want to applaud President Biden. He took a riskier decision for our military in order to save civilian lives. al-Qurayshi, the leader of ISIS who was killed, showed his depravity by exploding a bomb and killing his family members and children. It just shows you what we're up against,” Chairman Menendez said. “I think we’re going to continue to see is engagement to take ISIS, wherever they are and however we can, to undermine their abilities to attack the homeland.”