May 13, 2019

Menendez Cautions Pompeo: Putin Meeting Cannot Mean ‘Business as Usual’ with Russia after Mueller Report

WASHINGTON – With U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo scheduled to meet with President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in the Russian Federation tomorrow, Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today sent a letter urging the Secretary to increase pressure on Moscow for its continued brazen aggression against the United States and other democracies around the world.

“For the sake of our national security, I implore the administration not to return to ‘business as usual’ with Russia in the wake of the Mueller Report,” wrote Menendez. This is not a time for reset with the Russian Federation.  The U.S. must be firm and abide by its national security commitments to the American people and our allies.”

Menendez specifically called on Secretary Pompeo to use the meeting to announce the imposition of Magnistky and Chemical and Biological Weapons sanctions in response to last year's chemical weapons attack in the United Kingdom, and to reinforce U.S. security assistance for Ukrainian forces.  The Senator concluded his letter urging Secretary Pompeo to warn Putin of the consequences of interfering in the upcoming European Parliamentary elections as well as the 2020 U.S. presidential elections.

A copy of the letter can be found here and below:

 

Dear Secretary Pompeo:

I am writing in advance of your meeting tomorrow with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi. This is a critically important meeting.  For the sake of our national security, I implore the administration not to return to "business as usual" with Russia in the wake of the Mueller Report. I urge you to raise the following three concerns with the President.

First, I am very concerned that the administration has missed clear deadlines with respect to established U.S. sanctions law. The administration is months overdue in imposing statutorily required sanctions under the Chemical and Biological Weapons Act in response to last year’s chemical weapons attack in the United Kingdom.  Historically, the administration has announced designations in December/January under the Magnitsky Act, in response to the Magnitsky assassination and Russian government gross violations of human rights.  It is now May.  I urge you to announce the imposition of CBW and Magnitsky sanctions during your visit to Sochi.

Second, Russian forces continue to kill Ukrainian soldiers and civilians in Donbas. You must be clear with Putin that the U.S. will continue to provide lethal weapons to Ukrainian forces and that the pressure track will increase so long as the Kremlin ignores its commitments under the Minsk Agreements. The U.S. must also be clear in its defense of Ukraine’s democratic institutions, especially as Moscow seeks to weaken incoming President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Third, I fully support Senator Schumer’s request that you tell Putin not to interfere in the 2020 U.S. election. In solidarity with our closest allies in Europe, you should also tell the Russian President to stop interfering in the European Parliamentary election process.  You should remind President Putin that such interference is sanctionable activity under the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (Public Law 115-44). 

This is not a time for reset with the Russian Federation.  The U.S. must be firm and abide by its national security commitments to the American people and our allies.  I look forward to a briefing on your meeting with President Putin upon your return.

Sincerely,

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Juan Pachon 202-224-4651