Senate Democrats on Wednesday introduced a new sanctions package to punish Russian President Vladimir Putin if he invades Ukraine, The Washington Post reports.
Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Menendez with White House support aims to make it “absolutely clear that the U.S. Senate will not stand idly by as the Kremlin threatens a re-invasion of Ukraine.”
“Putin need not collapse his entire economy nor does he need to sacrifice the lives of his own people in a futile attempt to rewrite the map of Europe,” Menendez said.
The bill would impose sanctions on top Russian government and military officials, including Putin, and key banking institutions.
The bill also calls the Nord Stream 2 pipeline Russia is building to Germany a “tool of malign influence” and urges the federal government to “consider all available and appropriate measures” to block the pipeline.
The bill effectively gives Democrats an out from voting on a bill sponsored by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz that would sanction Russia over the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.
Senate Democrats agreed to hold a vote on Cruz’s bill in exchange for him ending his blockade of Biden’s ambassador picks.
National Security Council spokesperson Emily Horne told the Post the White House backs Menendez’s bill and claimed Cruz’s bill would “not counter further Russian aggression or protect Ukraine.”
“Instead, it will undermine our efforts to deter Russia and remove leverage the United States and our allies and partners possess in this moment all to score political points at home,” Horne said. “And it would come at a moment where we need to be closely united with our European partners, including Germany. It makes no sense.”
Dems say situation has changed:
Despite Ukraine lobbying for Cruz’s bill, Democrats claim that the situation has changed now that the pipeline has been built.
A senior administration official told the Post that the threat of halting the pipeline, which is not yet operational, is a “credible piece of leverage that Germany holds over Russia at this time.”
“We need legislation that addresses the political situation we face today in response to increasing Russian aggression — not last year or two years ago,” said New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen. “The dynamics changed and so must our strategy. That is what this bill would do.”