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Menendez Statement for the Record on Pres. Trump Suggesting Russia Should Rejoin the

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, submitted the following statement for the Senate record on President Trump’s comments regarding the government of the Russian Federation rejoining the G-7.  Earlier this week, Menendez also introduced an amendment to the annual defense policy legislation calling on the President to immediately retract his statement at the G7 and to clearly state that the Russian Federation will never join the G7 until it ends its illegal occupation of Crimea.

Below is the Senator’s statement entered into the Senate record:

“M. President, at the G-7 Summit in Charlevoix, Canada on June 9, 2018, President Trump stated the following in regard to the Russian Federation rejoining this group of the world’s seven most industrialized and powerful nations: “It would be an asset to have Russia back in. I think it would be good for the world. I think it would be good for Russia. I think it would be good for the United States. I think it would be good for all of the countries of the current G7. I think the G8 would be better.”

Such a statement, even for this president, is stunning. 

On March 24, 2014, the current group of G7 states suspended the Russian Federation, in response to its illegal invasion and occupation of the Ukrainian territory of Crimea.  Since then, the Government of the Russian Federation continues to illegally occupy Crimea and has utterly failed to fulfill its obligations under the Minsk Agreements to end its violent aggression in eastern Ukraine.  Russia has failed to respect a full ceasefire; it has failed to pull back its heavy weaponry; it has failed to permit the monitoring and verification of a ceasefire regime; and it has failed to ensure access for humanitarian aid to conflict-affected individuals.

But the story does not stop with Ukraine—since 2014, the Government of the Russian Federation has greatly expanded its aggression around the world, including against the United States with the attack on our 2016 election.  The Kremlin continues to interfere in elections, wage cyberattacks, engage in corruption and political meddling, and spread lies and disinformation—all with the goal to divide societies, undermine the rules-based international order, and break up longstanding transatlantic alliances. Our intelligence community has repeatedly asserted that the Kremlin will likely target our elections again this fall.  The very ideal of democracy as a system of government is under constant assault from a Kremlin bent on destroying the international rules-based order.

M. President, upon considering these facts, no observer could seriously think Russia deserves to be welcomed back into the G-7 club.  Any such suggestion is ludicrous and must be dismissed out of hand.

The United States is a country long governed by the rule of law, where breaking the rules has consequences.  More broadly, the United States has helped to create the rules-based order in the international community that has undoubtedly served the interests of the American people and benefited the world since the end of WWII by fostering peace and prosperity.  The United States is bound with other G-7 nations not just because of the size of our economies, but because of our shared values and common cause to foster societies in which our citizens can live freely, peacefully, and prosperously.  Inviting the current Government of the Russian Federation to rejoin the circle of G-7 world leaders when President Vladimir Putin’s regime poses an ongoing threat to our freedom, peace, and prosperity serves his interests—not ours. 

So President Trump’s suggestion to readmit Russia to the G-7 and his subsequent disavowal of the joint communique which the United States and other G-7 nations successfully negotiated in Charlevoix defy logic.  More outrageously, they reflect his propensity to praise autocrats while attacking our allies and the democratic values and rules-based system they defend.  Does it put America first to side with autocrats?  This president seems to think so.

So I have introduced an amendment to the Defense Authorization bill calling on President Trump to retract his comments on readmitting Russia to the G7.  Absent any change in the Kremlin’s efforts to undermine the rules-based international order or its illegal occupation of Crimea, the G7 should not even consider welcoming the Russian Federation back into its fold, let alone with open arms. This amendment sends a necessary and strong message that the United States stands by our friends and the international rules-based order that benefits American workers and American national security.  I am committed to working with my Senate colleagues on both sides of the aisle to shore up our closest alliances and to hold the Russian government accountable for its aggression in Ukraine, the United States, and beyond.  I urge adoption of this amendment.”