Senators on both sides of the Senate aisles recently discussed the tense, rapidly developing situation between Russia and Ukraine.
In one meeting, eight senators drafted a bill to rollout economic impediments to Russia in the event Putin chooses to invade neighboring Ukraine. Chairman of the Senate Diplomatic Commission, Senator Bob Menendez, D-New Jersey, called the bill the “mother of all sanctions.”
“I would like to make it clear to those who are listening to this hearing in Moscow, Kiev, and other capitals around the world. Russia’s aggression will cause devastating economic sanctions like never before,” he said.
“Let’s do it. (Vladimir) Putin can’t redraw a map of Europe. Europeans should think about it. He can’t bully and subdue the people of an independent state.”
Menendez noted that Ukrainians will not abide Putin’s threats and the United States should not either.
“To be clear, these are not common sanctions,” said Menendez. “What is being discussed is the greatest end of its range, or the mother of all sanctions, as I call it. And we get together in a bipartisan way and immediately legislate. I hope I can find a way and achieve it.”
Republicans also support the enactment of preemptive sanctions, while other Democrats want to impose penalties only in the case of aggressive actions. Senators hope to come to an agreement over the upcoming days.
Tensions ramp up
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken recently attended the EU Foreign Ministers’ Meeting as speculation continues over the possibility of Russian aggression toward Ukraine.
Blinken told other leaders that the U.S. is working on a diplomatic solution to the Russia-Ukraine situation on the video call. He added that it is unclear whether Russia will step back from its efforts to “rebuild the Soviet empire.”
During the call, EU diplomats reaffirmed Ukraine’s commitment to territorial integrity and security. The EU also stated that it is considering a $1.4 billion financial aid package for Ukraine, hoping it may help relieve tensions.
“This package helps Ukraine respond to the funding needs of the conflict,” said Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission.
“We look forward to the Board and the European Parliament adopting this urgent macro-financial support as soon as possible. Then proceed to the prompt payment of the first tranche of €600 million.”