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Corker Urges Continued Partnership with EU to Deter Russian Aggression in Europe

WASHINGTON – At a hearing on the U.S. partnership with the European Union to deter Russian aggression in Europe, U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today sought continued cooperation with the EU in response to Moscow’s destabilizing activities, including threats to European elections this year.

“Today’s hearing is an opportunity to look forward and to understand how our transatlantic efforts to push back against Russian aggression can continue and possibly expand,” said Corker. “We have thus far worked together against Russia’s negative influence—and must continue to do so—despite President Putin’s best attempts to divide us. In looking ahead, we must be particularly conscious of the concerns that Russia will also attempt to influence European elections this year.” 

Corker also condemned the terrorist attacks in St. Petersburg yesterday and expressed sympathy to the people of Russia.

“I want to express my sincere sympathies to the families of the 11 Russians killed yesterday in St. Petersburg and to the over 40 Russians who were wounded in terrorist attacks across that great city,” added Corker. “We may have serious differences with the Russian government, but we stand with the people of Russia against terrorism that is a common threat to us all.”

The committee heard testimony today from David O’Sullivan, the head of the EU delegation to the United States; Kurt Volker, executive director of The McCain Institute for International Leadership; and Daniel Baer, former U.S. ambassador to the Organization For Security and Cooperation In Europe.

In response to questions from Corker, O’Sullivan described discussions with the Trump administration about enforcing sanctions over Russia’s intervention in Ukraine as “very assuring” and further acknowledged “a remarkable unity of purpose” between the U.S. and the EU. He also stressed the importance of continued U.S.-EU coordination over sanctions, suggesting potential concerns among EU member states should the U.S. target Moscow’s energy sector with unilateral sanctions.

“We have moved in lock step throughout this process, and I think that has not only ensured the right political response but also the effectiveness of the sanctions,” said O’Sullivan. “It is well known that the European Union has perhaps even closer economic ties with Russia, and, therefore, whatever we do has perhaps more impact than what can be decided by the United States alone. And I think it would be very important that before moving in the direction that you have indicated that we coordinate very closely, because, I think it is possible that measures of the kind you mentioned could have an adverse effect on the European Union.”

Click here for complete testimony and video footage of the hearing.