WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) today introduced the Defending American Security from Kremlin Aggression Act (DASKA) of 2019. The comprehensive legislation seeks to increase economic, political, and diplomatic pressure on the Russian Federation in response to Russia’s interference in democratic processes abroad, malign influence in Syria, and aggression against Ukraine, including in the Kerch Strait.
The legislation establishes a comprehensive policy response to better position the U.S. government to address Kremlin aggression by creating new policy offices on cyber defenses and sanctions coordination. The bill stands up for NATO and prevents the President from pulling the U.S. out of the Alliance without a Senate vote. It also increases sanctions pressure on Moscow for its interference in democratic processes abroad and continued aggression against Ukraine.
“President Trump’s willful paralysis in the face of Kremlin aggression has reached a boiling point in Congress,” said Senator Menendez. “Putin’s actions cannot be tolerated, and the consequences of inaction are quickly compounding – further humanitarian disaster in Syria, regional instability, kidnapping of Ukrainian sailors and seizure of ships, and the steady erosion of international norms. One thing is increasingly clear: Moscow will continue to push until it meets genuine resistance. That is why we are introducing a proposal to actually address the realities of the Kremlin threat in a holistic way, all while sending a crystal clear message to our adversaries that the U.S Congress will protect our institutions, allies and values even if the President chooses not to do so.”
“Our goal is to change the status quo and impose meaningful sanctions and measures against Putin’s Russia. He should cease and desist meddling in the U.S. electoral process, halt cyberattacks on American infrastructure, remove Russia from Ukraine, and stop efforts to create chaos in Syria,” said Sen. Graham. “The sanctions and other measures contained in this bill are the most hard-hitting ever imposed – and a direct result of Putin’s continued desire to undermine American democracy. The sanctions and measures we propose are designed to respond in the strongest possible fashion.”
“Congress continues to take the lead in defending U.S. national security against continuing Russian aggression against democratic institutions at home and abroad,” said Senator Cardin. “I’m pleased to work with my colleagues on a comprehensive, bipartisan effort to counter Russia’s pervasive attacks on our electoral systems and cyber infrastructure. At least one branch of government fully understands the need to further protect our country and our allies from a Kremlin that shows no sign of abiding by or respecting international norms.”
“Putin’s Russia is an outlaw regime that is hell-bent on undermining international law and destroying the U.S.-led liberal global order,” said Sen. Gardner. “From the invasion of Ukraine, carrying out chemical attacks on NATO soil, support for the heinous Assad regime, violations of arms control treaties, and meddling in U.S. elections, Russia’s actions necessitate the strongest possible response from the United States. This is why I am glad to join with my colleagues in this legislation to impose additional strong sanctions to deter Russia’s malign behavior, including my provision to require the State Department to determine whether Russia merits the designation as a state sponsor of terror. With this bill, Congress is demonstrating firm bipartisan resolve against Kremlin’s mendacity and I hope it will move quickly to be signed into law.”
“Russia’s continued aggression against the United States and our allies, and its repeated attacks on Ukraine’s sovereignty must be countered with a clear, bipartisan condemnation from Congress,” said Shaheen. “This legislation builds on previous efforts in Congress to hold Russia accountable for its bellicose behavior against the United States and its determination to destabilize our global world order. I urge Senate Leadership to move swiftly on this legislation, and I’ll keep working across the aisle to prioritize measures that safeguard our nation from adversaries who threaten our democracy.”
The reintroduced version of DASKA includes the following new elements:
Sanctions in Response to Kremlin interference in democratic institutions abroad
Sanctions in Response to Kremlin aggression in Ukraine
Other key provisions of the legislation include: