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Chairman Menendez’s Opening Remarks at Hearing on Russia and Developments in Ukraine

Washington, DC –  U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, delivered the below statement, as prepared for delivery, at today’s hearing titled “Russia and Developments in Ukraine.”

“This hearing will come to order. We have two distinguished panels today to help us look more closely at developments in Ukraine.

“We are pleased to have – on our first panel – Assistant Secretaries from State, Treasury, and Defense to brief us on the situation on the ground – and – on our second panel – two former National Security Advisors to provide insights into the broader geopolitical implications of Putin’s actions in Ukraine.

In the past week, Ukraine appears to have mobilized around its new President. Ukrainian armed forces have been actively re-closing their border with Russia and pushing back Russian separatists.

“At the same time, President Putin’s instigation of this conflict continues to breed uncertainty as to whether a corner has in fact been turned.  

“In my view, Putin is entirely capable of trying to divide Ukraine one day and then – when the international community applies pressure – withdraw from the scene long-enough to avoid the international community’s scrutiny while effectively continuing his aggression to achieve his intended goal.

“In June, I wrote to President Obama asking him to seriously consider implementing additional targeted sanctions as soon as possible to deter Putin from further destabilizing Ukraine.

“I fully appreciate the importance of acting in concert with our European allies to ensure that sanctions have their intended effect, but at the same time, we should not hesitate to act unilaterally to support an independent Ukraine and counter malign Russian interference where delay threatens these goals, our strategic objectives, or our national interests.  In the long run, a stable and secure region will serve our national interests and enhance opportunities for U.S. and European businesses.  

“In my view, unless Putin is confronted with strong disincentives, he will continue to ensure that the Ukrainian government will not be able to stabilize the situation and that he will position himself to fill the power vacuum when the government can’t fill the needs of the Ukrainian people.

“A question for our panelists today is what steps and measures must Putin take now to demonstrate his commitment to resolving the conflict and at what point would you call his bluff and proceed with additional sanctions?

“We’re pleased to have such distinguished panelists before the Committee and look forward to gaining a deeper insight into what is happening on the ground and the broader geopolitical ramifications of Russia’s actions.

“With that, I turn to Senator Corker for his opening remarks.”


“On our first panel today we welcome back Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, Victoria Nuland, Daniel Glaser, Assistant Secretary of Treasury for Terrorist Financing, and Derek Chollet, Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs.

“Let me remind our panelists that your written statements will be included in the record in their entirety – without objection – but I would ask that you please summarize it in five minutes so we can proceed to questions.

“On our second panel we have with us two distinguished former National Security Advisors: Zbigniew Brezinski, now Counselor and Trustee at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, author of countless books giving us the benefit of his profound insight into world history and world affairs, and Stephen Hadley, former National Security Advisor to President Bush, and now a Principal at Rice, Hadley, Gates.

“Gentlemen, we are pleased to welcome you back to the Committee and look forward to your testimony. As always, your written statements will be included in the record in their entirety – without objection – but I would ask that you please summarize them in five minutes so we can proceed to questions.”