WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, on delivered the following remarks at a hearing on the nominations of Governor Jon Huntsman to serve as U.S. ambassador to Russia and Wess Mitchell to serve as assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian Affairs.
“Europe and Eurasia are home to some of our closest partners and also some of our greatest challenges.
“Formed in 1949 to defend the free people of the West from the Soviet threat, NATO remains vital to the security of Europe and the United States.
“The European Union is also a critical partner in trade, politics and global humanitarian efforts. Additionally, the United States’ oldest and best allies – France and the United Kingdom – are European countries.
“We look to the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs to manage these relationships as the United States reasserts itself on the world stage.
“Yet, Russia’s bad acts complicate much of the good that the United States tries to do.
“The Russian Federation possesses not only the second-most powerful military in the world but also a seat on the United Nations Security Council, where its veto protects war criminals such as Bashar al-Assad.
“In the last several years, Russia has twice invaded Ukraine, where it continues to illegally occupy Crimea and aggravate the war in the Donbass.
“Vladimir Putin entered the Syrian civil war on the side of a regime that has repeatedly used chemical weapons on civilians.
“And last year, Russian efforts to influence the 2016 U.S. election fundamentally damaged our bilateral relationship.
“If that weren’t enough, Russia is in violation of the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty and is failing to meet its obligations under the Treaty on Open Skies.
“On the other hand, we have many issues of common interests and figuring out a way to move between these issues successfully is going to be a great challenge for our next ambassador.
“Today’s nominees will need to perform some of the most important diplomatic work that our country could require to preserve our interests throughout Europe and guard against further Russian aggression.
“We thank them for their willingness to serve and welcome them to the committee today.”
Click here for complete testimony and video footage of the hearing.