A Senate panel wants to slap sanctions on Russian defense firms while also authorizing the Obama administration to send lethal military aid to Ukraine.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Thursday approved a measure crafted by its chairman, Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., and Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., its ranking member, aimed at increasing pressure on Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine.
Specifically, if passed by both chambers and signed by President Barack Obama, the measure would place sanctions on state-run Rosoboronexport and other Russian arms manufacturers determined to “contribute to instability in Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia and Syria,” according to a committee statement.
It also would place new sanctions on Russian energy firms, including energy giant Gazprom. Menendez and Corker are concerned the firm is withholding natural gas from NATO members or other European countries.
The bill also would authorize economic restrictions on “foreign financial institutions’ dealings with the United States banking system if it is determined the financial institution has engaged in significant sanctionable transactions related to Russia’s defense and energy sectors, or significant transactions on behalf of any Russian individual or entity that has been sanctioned in connection with the crisis in Ukraine.”
The bill also echoes calls from members of both US political parties to give Ukrainian troops lethal weapons in their ongoing standoff with Russian troops and Moscow-backed separatists.
The White House, so far, is resisting such calls.
The Obama administration has sent and pledged to send millions of dollars in non-lethal aid to Ukrainian forces, including meals ready to eat, explosive ordnance disposal gear, radios, engineering equipment, communications systems, vehicles and individual tactical gear.