Top Democrat proposes crushing sanctions if Russia invades Ukraine

Senate Foreign Relations President Bob Menendez (DNJ) has make an edit This will lead to a series of sanctions against top Russian officials, the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, major financial institutions, sovereign debt transactions and more in the event of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

why does it matter: US officials have sounded the alarm about Russia’s massive military build-up on Ukraine’s eastern border. The threat of sanctions is intended as a powerful deterrent against Russian President Vladimir Putin.

News leadership: Menendez’s proposal was introduced late Thursday night as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act, the defense spending bill that must pass and that the Senate will vote on after the Thanksgiving holiday.

  • It would require President Biden to impose sanctions and visa bans against senior Russian military and intelligence officials involved in planning or executing the invasion of Ukraine, and to allow additional military assistance to be provided to Kiev.
  • The amendment also called for sanctions against Russian banks, state-owned companies, and the vital oil, gas and mineral sectors. It will ban primary and secondary sovereign debt transactions, which will deal a major blow to the Russian economy.

The plot: The amendment would penalize any company or corporate official involved in the planning or operation of Nord Stream 2, a suspended natural gas pipeline that would allow Russia to bypass Ukraine and deliver energy directly to Europe via Germany.

  • Republican senators have been pressing to vote on their own amendment to approve the pipeline project currently Before any possible Russian invasion.
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky took to Twitter this week to plead publicly With senators to support this amendment in a last-ditch attempt to block the pipeline. Ukrainian officials assert that decommissioning the pipeline is the clearest remaining path to preventing a Russian invasion.
  • recovery: The administration waived sanctions this spring on the Swiss company that had been working on completing the project, arguing that it wasn’t worth jeopardizing the relationship with Germany to try to block a pipeline that was already 98% finished.

behind the scenes: Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has refused to allow a vote on the Republican amendment so far, citing a technical problem with the bill’s language, according to sources familiar with the situation.

  • That infuriated many Republicans, who believe Democrats are relinquishing a position that previously enjoyed bipartisan support at the request of the Biden administration.

playing condition: Secretary of State Tony Blinken to caution That Russia may “recast” its 2014 invasion of Ukraine in the coming months, though Putin’s intentions to build up troops near the border are hotly debated.

  • The Menendez modification is intended to serve as a flight wire that Russia will not want to cross.

what do you want to watch: It remains unclear whether either amendment will get a vote when the Senate reconvenes.

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