By Gretchen Clayson
Republican Idaho Sen. James Risch and Democratic New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez, the two leading members of the Foreign Relations committee, appeared on “State of the Union” Sunday to discuss a bipartisan bill that would impose heavy sanctions on Russia should it be passed.
Dubbed “the mother of all sanctions” by Menendez, the bill would provide more lethal aid to Ukraine while dealing massive sanctions against Russia’s most significant banks, crippling their economy. “These are sanctions beyond any that we have ever levied before, and I think that sends a very clear message,” Menendez stated.
Sec. of State Antony Blinken has been hesitant to support sanctions before a Russian invasion of Ukraine stating, “the purpose of those sanctions is to deter Russian aggression. If they are triggered, now you lose the deterrent effect.
When asked about the timing of the sanctions with this bill, Menendez stated, “Look, there are some sanctions that really could take place upfront because of what Russia has already done. Cyberattacks on Ukraine, false flag operations, the efforts to undermine the Ukrainian government internally, those are just some examples of sanctions that could take place now.”
“But then the devastating sanctions that ultimately would crush Russia’s economy and the continuing lethal aid that we are going to send, which means Putin has to decide how many body bags of Russian sons are going to return to Russia, the sanctions that we’re talking about would come later on if [Russia] invades. Some sanctions would come up front for what has been done already, but the lethal aid will travel no matter what.” (RELATED: Biden Says US Troops Going To Eastern Europe In ‘Near Term’ Amid Growing Fears Of Russian Aggression)
When asked about sanctions being imposed on the Nord Stream 2 Pipeline, Risch admitted that it has been a “continuing disagreement” since the Biden Administration took office, but signaled something could be changing. (RELATED: Analysis: Biden’s Nord Stream 2 Move Opens The Door To a Russian Invasion Into Ukraine)
”Look, there’s been something happening on the ground that has changed the dynamics and opened the door, really, for us to reach agreement on that and that is that the Germans have signaled that they are suspending, pausing if you would, certification, thus completion of the pipeline for six months.” ”That’s going to be the last T crossed, I dotted before we put the ball across the finish line,” Risch stated.
Despite disagreements, Menendez expressed confidence that the bipartisan bill would pass. “I would describe it as that we are on the one-yard line. And, hopefully, we will be able to conclude successfully. What there is no doubt about is that 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, in some cases, for what it has already done,” he concluded.