US remains Ukraine’s greatest military backer, but more is required
provisions to assist with Ukraine’s political and economic reforms.
Jim Risch, a Republican senator from Idaho, a supporter of Trump and opponent of Biden was lead sponsor of the bill.
In a recent op-ed for the Washington Post, he attacked Biden for not being tougher on Putin, pointing out that the Russian leader’s disregard of international norms has intensified in the first half of 2021.
“Dialogue for the sake of dialogue will only grant Putin the validation he craves,” he wrote, in reference to Biden’s summit with Putin. “Honest dialogue cannot take place until Putin’s actions demonstrate his willingness to engage in good-faith diplomacy.”
Bob Menendez, the Democratic senator from New Jersey and the committee chair co-sponsored the legislation. He has been an outspoken ally of Ukraine for a long time, during the presidencies of Barack Obama and Trump.
“As Putin continues to escalate the situation along the border with Ukraine, we are speaking with one voice in reaffirming our steadfast support to the people of Ukraine and our commitment to protect our national security interests and our closest partners,” he stated in March, when Russia’s latest massive troop buildup on the borders of Ukraine was beginning.
Menendez previously sponsored the Ukraine Freedom Support Act of 2014, which was also co-sponsored by 14 other senators and passed to address Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. It envisaged U.S. support for Ukraine to restore its sovereignty and territorial integrity and deterrence of Russia’s further destabilization of Ukraine and other countries.
Unlike Risch and some fellow Republicans, Menendez praised
Biden’s summit, saying the onus is now on Putin to back down from his “malign activities” in Ukraine.
Other senators who participated in the bill’s introduction included Rob Portman (R-OH), Chris Murphy (D-CT.), John Barrasso (R-WY), and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH)
Shaheen, Portman and Murphy traveled to Ukraine in June to meet with President Volodymyr Zelensky, Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal and other top officials and civil society heads to reaffirm American support.
The bipartisan committee said it would continue looking for ways to stop the imminent completion of
Nord Stream 2 and try to prevent the pipeline from becoming operational.
Ted Cruz, a Republican senator from Texas, introduced an amendment trying to force the State Department to determine whether 20 ships, including the Akademik Cherskiy, Umka and Errieit should be sanctioned for helping build Nord Stream 2.
More recently, Cruz has moved to block all State Department nominations to pressure the Biden administration over Russia’s pipeline. Thirteen nominees have been held up indefinitely unless the administration decides to reverse its waiver
on sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 consortium.
Even so, Cruz had previously spread debunked conspiracy theories about supposed Ukrainian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential elections, in aid of Trump, a fellow Republican.
Cruz, Shaheen Barasso and Tom Cotton (R-AR) considered a sanction bill against the companies involved in the construction of Nord Stream 2 as early as 2019. After the legislation passed in December 2019, construction halted temporarily but later resumed, in light of Russia’s determination to get it done at all costs.