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A bipartisan group of senators concluded a visit to Ukraine Tuesday after assembly with President Volodymyr Zelensky and different prime officers to reaffirm U.S. help of the previous Soviet nation following stalled talks with Russia final week.
Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Europe and Regional Security Cooperation, led the delegation to indicate that the U.S. is “united across party lines in support of Ukraine against Putin’s belligerence,” Shaheen mentioned Tuesday.
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Shaheen mentioned lawmakers will look to forge a “path forward in Congress to respond to the political situation in Ukraine and Eastern Europe that safeguards Ukraine’s territorial integrity, Europe’s energy security and broader regional stability.”
“Efforts are underway to enhance our laws that will empower the Biden administration with tools to work with our allies to prepare penalties for Putin amid his provocations, and increase aid to Ukraine,” she mentioned in a press release shared with Fox News.
Though lawmakers seem united of their opposition to Russian aggression towards Ukraine, reaching a bipartisan technique to counter the Kremlin already has senators divided.
The Senate didn’t move a invoice led by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, final week that will have slapped sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 Pipeline – which is about to run oil from Russia into Europe via Germany.
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen speaks throughout a Senate Foreign Relations Committee listening to.
(Alex Brandon-Pool/Getty Images/File)
A separate invoice led by Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., has as a substitute garnered sweeping support in his celebration. It would impose sanctions on the Russian banking system and prime officers within the authorities and navy ought to Putin violate Ukrainian sovereignty.
Shaheen, who had beforehand backed sanctions on the key Russian pipeline, voted towards Cruz’s invoice and as a substitute has backed Menendez’s Defending Ukraine Sovereignty Act.
“I’ve led action over the years to stop the pipeline, including my partnership with Sen. Cruz on sanctions that were included in the fiscal year 2021 defense bill and led to a halt in construction of the pipeline,” she mentioned following her vote Thursday.
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But the subcommittee chair mentioned Cruz’s newest laws would “undermine diplomacy at work and risk obstructing Senate business.”
It is unclear if Menendez’s invoice – which obtained backing from Connecticut Democrats Sens. Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal, who additionally traveled to Kyiv – will garner sufficient GOP help to push it via the higher chamber.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal provides a briefing after assembly with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, Jan. 17, 2022.
(AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
But senators from throughout the aisle mentioned the journey to Ukraine confirmed their resolve to help Ukraine as Russia continues to mount an aggressive entrance on their border.
Portman mentioned the current passage of the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal 12 months 2022 elevated its help for the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative from $250 million in 2021 to $300 million this 12 months – $75 million of which was “specifically designated for lethal assistance.”
“America should be encouraged by Ukraine’s determination to remain free and independent,” the Republican senator mentioned. “A sovereign and democratic Ukraine is not just good for the people of Ukraine, it is important to the stability of Europe and provides a beacon of hope to millions of others who wish for that same freedom.”
Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., echoed Portman’s feedback in a press release to Fox News and mentioned, “We stand with the brave people of Ukraine.”
“At a moment of political division in Washington, we instead chose to travel to Ukraine in unity,” she mentioned. “The U.S. administration – from the Secretary of State to the President himself – has pledged to help this country. Our message is that there will be consequences if Vladimir Putin chooses to violate the sanctity of this democracy.”