Senator Bob Corker and Senator Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, on Tuesday introduced the Ukraine Freedom Support Act of 2014, legislation that imposes broad sanctions on Russia’s defense, energy, and financial sectors, as well as increasing military and non-military assistance for Ukraine.
The legislation will be taken up by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Thursday just hours after Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko will address a joint meeting of Congress. Last week, Senators Corker and Menendez wrote Speaker Boehner requesting that President Poroshenko receive an invitation to speak before Congress.
“Now is the time to increase the pressure on Putin and help strengthen Ukraine’s leverage," said Senator Corker. "At a critical moment for Ukraine's future, this bill if implemented would both demonstrate our solidarity with the Ukrainian people and our commitment that Russia will pay an increasingly heavy price for its invasion of Ukraine."
“President Putin has upended the international order and a slap on the wrist will not deter future Russian provocations,” Senator Menendez said. “In the face of Russian aggression, Ukraine needs our steadfast and determined support, not an ambiguous response. We are left with no choice but to apply tough sanctions against Russia, coupled with military assistance to Ukraine.”
The legislation requires the president to apply sanctions against:
· Rosoboronexport and other Russian defense firms that contribute to instability in Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, and Syria;
· Companies worldwide that make significant investments in particular unconventional Russian crude oil energy projects;
· Gazprom, if the president determines that Gazprom is withholding significant natural gas supplies from member countries of NATO or further withholds such supplies from countries such as Ukraine, Georgia, or Moldova.
It also imposes 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.
This legislation authorizes the president to provide military assistance to Ukraine, to include:
· Providing defense articles, defense services, and training to the government of Ukraine for the purpose of countering offensive weapons and reestablishing the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, including anti-tank and anti-armor weapons; crew weapons and ammunition; counter-artillery radars to identify and target artillery batteries; fire control, range finder, and optical and guidance and control equipment; tactical troop-operated surveillance drones, and secure command and communications equipment. It authorizes $350 million in fiscal year 2015 to carry out these activities.
It requires the administration to outline a plan for how the United States, other governments, and international organizations will help Ukraine in protecting and assisting persons internally displaced because of the fighting in Ukraine.
The bill requires the administration to work with Ukraine to develop a short-term emergency energy assistance plan that will help Ukraine address a potential fuel and electricity shortage in 2014-15, and authorizes $50 million for fiscal year 2015 in support of these activities. It also requires the administration to develop medium- and long-term plans to increase energy production and efficiency to improve energy security in Ukraine, and authorizes $50 million over three fiscal years for such activities.
Under this bill, the president would need to submit a strategy to Congress that outlines U.S. efforts to strengthen Ukrainian civil society, support independent media, reduce corruption, and increase election-monitoring capacity. This legislation also encourages the president to assist entities in the Ukrainian defense sector to reorient exports away from customers in Russia and to find appropriate alternative markets for their products.
Finally, the bill designates Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia as major non-NATO allies and authorizes $10 million for the next three fiscal years to counter Russian propaganda in the former Soviet Union countries and prioritizes Russian-language broadcasting into Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia.