We are facing what could be a World War III with this Ukraine-Russia conflict. But Dems are somehow missing the point. Congressmen on both sides of the aisle agree that sanctions should be placed on Russia, it’s just the when, and how severe they are that is in question. The GOP, of course, wants to let Russia know to cut it out, now, whereas Dems are thinking sanctions are only necessary after Ukraine is invaded.
“I would describe it as we are on the one-yard line and hopefully, we will be able to conclude successfully,” Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Sen. Robert Menendez told CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday. “There is an incredible bipartisan resolve for support of Ukraine and an incredibly strong bipartisan resolve to have severe consequences for Russia if it invades Ukraine and for some cases what it has already done.”
But fissures remain in Congress within and between the two parties on the scope and timing of the sanctions, and all sides worry that any missteps could exacerbate the volatile situation in Eastern Europe.
Republicans fear the Democrats’ bill, which Mr. Menendez has dubbed the “mother of all sanctions bill,” is too weak with too many loopholes and too many waivers that the Kremlin can exploit.
The starting point for the debate is a bill put forward earlier this month by Mr. Menendez, New Jersey Democrat, as an alternative to a Senate GOP measure that would have immediately reimposed Trump-era sanctions on Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline — sanctions that Mr. Biden lifted last year.
Critics contend that the natural gas pipeline will increase Moscow’s dominance over European energy markets and put Germany and other countries at risk of energy extortion.
Sen. Jim Risch of Idaho, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations panel, said that Russia’s aggression in recent days might have changed the calculus.
“We’ve had a disagreement on that since the administration took office,” said Mr. Risch. “But look, there’s been something that’s happened on the ground that has changed the dynamics and opened the door, really, for us to reach an agreement.”
It remains to be seen whether Congress will rise to the occasion, however.”
“Republicans said it is too little, too late, and the Democrats’ bill would do more to appease Mr. Putin than it would deter him from invading Ukraine.”
The bill stops short of Republican proposals to enact immediate sanctions on Nord Stream 2 and instead, expresses a “sense of Congress that Nord Stream 2 is a tool of the malign influence of the Russian Federation.”
“If that’s the conversation we have when Russia is marching across Ukraine, I think that Vladimir Putin and Russia are going to be thrilled that that’s our conversation,” said Rep. Scott Perry, Pennsylvania Republican, and chairman of the far-right House Freedom Caucus. “Because while we’re gonna be talking about Nord Stream, and a waiver and potential sanctions, they’re going to be gobbling up territory.”
“I think it has no deterring effect whatsoever as a matter of fact, that might have the opposite effect of encouraging Putin by signaling even more weakness than we’ve already telegraphed,” he said.”
We need proactive sanctions this time. Waiting until Russia invades Ukraine is foolish. Putin knows he’s going to get sanctioned if he invades Ukraine, so that’s not a deterrent, and pretty useless.