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Risch, Colleagues Introduce Legislation to Bolster Support for Ukraine

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Jim Risch (R-Idaho), ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today introduced the Guaranteeing Ukraine’s Autonomy by Reinforcing its Defense Act (GUARD Act), legislation to provide critical support to Ukraine as it faces the threat of an invasion from Russia. Risch was joined by Senators Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), and Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.).

“As Ukraine faces yet another build-up of Russian troops on its border and the threat of a mid-January invasion, the United States should be doing everything it can right now to deter Russia and provide Ukraine the supplies and support it needs to defend itself,” said Risch. “Since the administration has failed to act, I have introduced legislation that would provide immediate material support to Ukraine. We cannot sit back and wait to react to Russian aggression. Congress must continue its strong support for the Ukrainian people and their right to sovereignty and self-defense.”

“We’ve watched Russia's military buildup around Ukraine for months, seeing clearly that Putin intends to violate Ukraine’s sovereignty. Despite this, the Biden administration says they won't take any action until after Putin invades — and by then, it will be too late for our friends in Ukraine. This bill pushes President Biden to speed up lethal military aid to Ukraine to deter Russia, before Russia invades. Lethal aid will remind Putin that any attempt to annex Kyiv will have real and concrete costs,” said Inhofe.

“President Biden’s willingness to make concessions to Putin not only endangers Ukrainians, but also welcomes the Kremlin’s aggression in the region at large,” said Rubio. “Unfortunately, this pattern of appeasement isn’t new - it’s the same failed strategy used by the Obama Administration years ago. It’s time to recognize that the Biden Administration’s so-called foreign policy experts are intent on repeating the same mistakes of the past. I’m proud to join Senator Risch in introducing this legislation, which takes the threat of Putin’s hostility seriously.”

“As evident by Russia’s escalating aggression, the mere threat of sanctions will not stop Putin from invading Ukraine,” said Toomey. “The administration must immediately take concrete steps to assist our Ukrainian partners by sanctioning the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, providing lethal assistance, and bolstering our bilateral defensive cooperation. I’m glad to join my colleagues in introducing the Guaranteeing Ukraine’s Autonomy by Reinforcing its Defense Act (GUARD Act) to protect Ukraine’s sovereignty and deter Putin’s aggression.”

“Putin is attempting to dominate and control Ukraine. We cannot let this bold and dangerous behavior go unchecked. The United States and our allies must do more to deter Russia by increasing the costs of its aggression,” said Barrasso. “Our bill strengthens sanctions on Russia and establishes clear consequences if they invade Ukraine. It also makes sure the brave Ukrainian Armed Forces have the resources they need to fight for their country’s freedom and future.”

"The United States cannot ignore Putin's latest efforts to rob the Ukrainian people of their sovereignty,” said Cornyn. “While President Biden has so far stood by and watched this aggression unfold, my colleagues and I are pushing the White House to take action. This legislation will ensure the Administration moves quickly to bolster Ukrainian armed forces and reaffirm our commitment to our European allies, as well as hold Putin accountable for his thuggery."

“The time to deter conflict is before it starts. Vladimir Putin has become more aggressive since Joe Biden took office, but the Biden administration hasn’t taken the necessary steps to prevent another invasion of Ukraine. Our bill will help mitigate President Biden’s failure by sanctioning Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline and increasing our support for Ukraine’s armed forces,” said Cotton

“I am proud to join my Senate colleagues in introducing comprehensive legislation to support our key ally Ukraine. The dangerous and unprovoked buildup of Russian forces on the Ukraine border requires a decisive, whole of government response – and this bill is a good start. While we have provided substantive material and training support to Ukraine, including through the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, there is still much to be done. We can show our allies and the world our support for Ukraine by increasing the amount of security funding for Ukraine, strengthening the Nord Stream 2 sanctions and enacting additional diplomatic initiatives – all of which will help Ukraine continue to strengthen their security and democratic institutions,” said Portman.

“While Congressional Democrats claim that they are tough on Russia, they’re refusing to act as President Biden’s appeasement to Vladimir Putin continues. The Biden Administration’s weakness, including its refusal to fully enforce mandatory congressional sanctions to halt Putin’s Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, has emboldened Russia to further threaten Europe and U.S. national security interests in the region. I’m pleased to support Ranking Member Risch’s GUARD Act to advance strong and responsible American and allied policies to counter Vladimir Putin’s growing aggression,” said Hagerty.

This legislation:

  • Substantially and immediately increases material support for the Ukrainian Armed Forces, including funding for weaponry, training, and military reform.
  • Authorizes $450 million in Foreign Military Financing for Ukraine for the year 2022.
  • Would replenish the presidential drawdown authority account should the president use all currently available funds to support Ukraine.
  • Strengthens sanctions on Nord Stream 2, a Russian malign influence project designed to undermine Ukraine and threaten European energy security.
  • Establishes diplomatic and military deterrents to counter Russian aggression:
    • Designates Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism in the event its forces further invade Ukraine.
    • Limits security risks related to U.S.-Russian military cooperation.
  • Reaffirms U.S. policy of unwavering commitment to Ukrainian sovereignty.

Text of the legislation can be found here.