WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, issued the following statement after the Trump Administration announced it would order 60 Russian diplomats to leave the country, and close the Russian consulate in Seattle in response to the nerve-agent poisoning of a former Russian spy in the United Kingdom. In a show of unity, European allies and Canada also announced similar measures.
“Today’s announcement is a welcome show of solidarity to make clear we stand with our indispensable ally the United Kingdom after the Russian government’s brazen chemical weapons strike on British soil. Russian regime behavior against our country and our allies cannot go unchallenged and today’s expulsion of Russian officials and the closure of its Seattle consulate sends an important message. I am also very pleased to see other allies step in and show a united front against this latest offense by the Kremlin.
“Following the invasions of neighbors, interference in elections at home and abroad, and now the chemical attack in the UK, Vladimir Putin has proven clearly to be an aggressor who does not share our interests or our values. We must stand by our partners under attack, and demand that the Russian regime adhere to its international commitments, cease its nefarious aggression, and stop undermining democratic norms and values.
“In light of today’s action, I urge President Trump and Secretary-designate Pompeo to fully acknowledge the Kremlin threat and take the long overdue steps to develop and implement a comprehensive strategy to counter the Russian state’s reprehensible behavior against our country, our interests and our allies. It is long past time for the Administration to take this national security threat seriously, and I once again call for the full implementation of mandatory sanctions under the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act that Congress passed over seven months ago.”