WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, joined Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and 24 of their Senate Democratic colleagues in introducing a bill to impose steep costs in the event of a renewed Kremlin invasion of Ukraine. This legislation to help deter a military escalation comes as the Kremlin continues to engage in an unjustified military build-up along Ukraine’s border. The proposal sends a clear message that the United States is prepared to impose devastating consequences for Putin and the Russian economy if he goes down the path of re-invading Ukraine.
“The bellicose actions and rhetoric that we have seen from Vladimir Putin in recent months represent the latest in a long string of offensive actions by the Russian President. Russia’s armed buildup around Ukraine – on top of their continued occupation of eastern Ukraine and Crimea – represents a serious threat not just to Ukraine, but to the broader peace and stability of Europe, and of the world,” said Sen. Warner. “This bill reinforces the message that the Biden administration must be conveying to Russia in face-to-face meetings this week – that accelerated aggression towards Ukraine will only strengthen U.S. assistance for our Ukrainian partners, reinvigorate NATO’s collective defense posture, and bring about devastating consequences for the Russian economy.”
Specifically, the Defending Ukraine Sovereignty Act of 2022 would impose crippling sanctions on the Russian banking sector and senior military and government officials in the case that President Putin chooses to escalate hostile action in or against Ukraine. The bill would also prohibit transactions on Russia’s primary and secondary sovereign debt and authorize sanctions on Russia’s extractive industries as well as on providers of specialized financial messaging services (e.g., SWIFT). To help meet urgent defense needs, the legislation calls upon the Departments of Defense and State to expedite transfer of defense articles to bolster Ukraine’s defense capabilities and authorizes $500 million in supplemental emergency security assistance to Ukraine in the event of a re-invasion by Russia. Lastly, the bill also expands U.S. efforts to counter Kremlin disinformation and strengthen ties with key regional partners facing Kremlin aggression.
As the top Democrat on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Sen. Warner co-led the Committee’s bipartisan investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. As a result of this investigation, the committee issued a comprehensive, five-volume report that concluded the Russian government engaged in an aggressive, multi-faceted effort to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election, and that the willingness of top officials on the Trump campaign to accept and even welcome Russian assistance represented a grave counterintelligence threat to our nation.
The Defending Ukraine Sovereignty Act
Mandatory and Additional Sanctions in the Event of Renewed Invasion: If an affirmative determination made by the president that Russia has engaged in a renewed invasion or escalation of hostilities, the Defending Ukraine Sovereignty Act triggers a cascade of mandatory sanctions on Russia’s political and military leadership, financial institutions, extractive industries, and Nord Stream 2, outlined below.
· Presidential Determination on Renewed Invasion or Escalation in Hostilities. Requires a Presidential determination as to whether the Russian government is engaged in or knowingly supporting a significant escalation in hostilities against Ukraine and whether the aim or effect of the escalation is to overthrow or dismantle the government of Ukraine, occupy Ukraine’s territory, or interfere with its territorial integrity.
· Mandatory Sanctions on Officials: Requires sanctions on list of officials including President Putin, the Prime Minister, Foreign Minister, Minister of Defense, Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces, and commanders of various branches of the armed forces, including the airborne and naval forces.
· Mandatory Sanctions on Financial Institutions: Requires the President to impose sanctions on three or more financial institutions from the following: Sberbank, VTB, Gazprombank, VEB.RF, The Russian Direct Investment Fund, Credit Bank of Moscow, Alfa Bank, Rosselkhozbank, FC Bank Otkritie, Promsvyazbank, Sovcombank, and Transkapitalbank.
· SWIFT: Authorizes sanctions on providers of specialized financial messaging services (e.g., SWIFT), and requires reporting on efforts to terminate services for sanctioned Russian financial institutions.
· Sovereign Debt: Prohibits transactions on primary and secondary Russian sovereign debt.
· Additional Sanctions: Requires the President to identify and sanction sectors and industries the President determines should be sanctioned in the interest of United States national security, including oil and gas extraction and production; coal extraction, mining, and production; and minerals extraction and processing.
· Nord Stream 2: Expresses the sense of Congress that Nord Stream 2 is a tool of malign influence of the Russian Federation, and that the United States should consider should consider all available and appropriate measures to prevent the Nord Stream 2 pipeline from becoming operational, and directs the administration to review its prior waiver of Nord Stream 2 in light of the Kremlin’s military buildup and aggression towards Ukraine.
· Waivers and Exceptions: Provides the President with a national security waiver and provides the standard exceptions for authorized intelligence activities, compliance with international obligations, and law enforcement activities.
Expediting Security Assistance to Ukraine
· Bolstering Ukraine’s Defenses: Directs State and DOD to develop a strategy to bolster Ukraine’s defense capabilities and enhance the delivery of security assistance to Ukraine, including meeting Ukraine’s most critical needs and coordinating with allies in providing immediate assistance to Ukraine.
· Expediting Delivery of Defense Articles: AuthorizesDOD and State to expedite procurement and delivery of defense articles and services for Ukraine, including through utilizing lease authority and the Special Defense Acquisition Fund.
· Supplemental Security Assistance: Authorizes $500 million in supplemental emergency security assistance to Ukraine in the event Russia re-invades for fiscal year 2022 and authorizes $3 million international military and education training for Ukraine. Also makes clear that the U.S. should continue to provide robust security assistance to Ukraine in the meantime.
· Report on Increased Security Assistance to Ukraine: Requires a report on the security assistance and provision of defense articles provided to Ukraine by the United States and allies since Russia’s military buildup.
Countering Kremlin Aggression against Ukraine and Eastern European Allies
· Combating Kremlin Disinformation: Directs State to use the Countering Russian Influence Fund to prioritize assisting Ukraine in combatting Russian disinformation.
· Expanded Support for RFE/RL: Directs Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty to improve its reach to audiences on the periphery of Russia, authorizes the exploration of opening new bureaus to reach new audiences in the Eurasia region and encourages RFE/RL to evaluate where Russian information is most deeply pervasive in the Eurasia region.
· Baltic Security and Economic Enhancement Initiative: Creates a new initiative to deepen security and economic ties with the Baltic states, including promoting the Baltic states’ resiliency against hybrid warfare, increasing interoperability with NATO forces, bolstering support for the Baltic region’s physical and energy security needs, and mitigating Russian and Chinese economic coercion against Baltic states.
· European Security: Expresses the sense of Congress that the United States should work closely with NATO allies and the OSCE in any discussions on European security, and requires the Secretary of State to submit a strategy to Congress on future formats to discuss European security, including an assessment of whether Russia has sufficiently de-escalated tensions to merit such discussions.
· Report on Russian Intelligence Services Destabilizing Ukraine: Requires a report on the role of Russian intelligence and security services in undermining Ukrainian independence and engaging in destabilizing activity.
· Public Disclosure of Putin’s Assets and Financial Practices: Requires an accounting and disclosure on the net worth, assets, and financial practices of Vladimir Putin and his inner circle, and their family members, including a public disclosure of the unclassified details.