Florida’s Senators Back GOP’s Effort to Help Ukraine Against Russia

This week, Florida’s two U.S. senators–Republicans Marco Rubio and Rick Scott–joined more than 30 Republicans led by U.S. Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho, in pushing the “Never Yielding Europe’s Territory (NYET) Act.”

Risch, the top Republican on the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, introduced the proposal to “provide the critical support Ukraine needs to defend itself and deter Russian aggression, while imposing real costs on the Kremlin for its ongoing and potential future aggression against Ukraine.”

“While a ‘military’ invasion has not yet occurred, there are other ways Russia can attack Ukraine that would be debilitating for Ukrainians and European security more generally,” Risch said. “Rather than simply restating authorities the president already has, the NYET Act takes immediate action to permanently stop Nord Stream 2, sends a powerful deterrent message, imposes heavy economic and military costs on Russia, strengthens U.S. allies and partners, and supports Ukraine via new authorities, funds, and tools.”

“We cannot return to a world in which countries can simply choose to invade their neighbors — it is dangerous and destructive,” Rubio said. “The United States must be ready to impose real and harsh consequences if Putin decides to invade Ukraine. Our legislation would do exactly that.”

The bill stops construction of the Nord Stream 2 project; sanctions Russian banks and European banks that work with the Russian government; sends $500 million in Foreign Military Financing (FMF) to Ukraine including funds for military assistance; creates the “Ukraine Resistance Fund” to “help Ukraine resist attempts to occupy or subjugate any new territory Russia seizes, while sending a clear message to Putin that his military will pay a price for advances into sovereign Ukrainian territory;” and creates a new Lend-Lease authority for Ukraine.

The bill was sent to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. So far, there is no companion measure over in the U.S. House.

Also last week, Rubio, who sits on the Foreign Relations Committee and is the vice-chairman of the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, joined leaders from both parties in issuing a joint statement backing Ukraine against Russia. U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-NY, and U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., also backed the joint statement. So did the party whips and the chairmen and top Republicans on the Senate Foreign Relations, Armed Services and Intelligence Committees.

“In this dark hour, we are sending a bipartisan message of solidarity and resolve to the people of Ukraine, and an equally clear warning to Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin,” the senators said. “Should Vladimir Putin further escalate his ongoing assault on Ukraine’s sovereignty, Russia must be made to pay a severe price. We are prepared to fully support the immediate imposition of strong, robust, and effective sanctions on Russia, as well as tough restrictions and controls on exports to Russia, and we will urge our allies and partners in Europe and around the world to join us.

“In the face of Russian escalation against Ukraine, we will continue to support robust security, economic, and humanitarian assistance for the people of Ukraine. The United States and our partners should also move quickly to ensure that the government of Ukraine receives sustained emergency assistance to defend against an illegal Russian invasion,” they added. “Make no mistake: the United States Senate stands with the people of Ukraine and our NATO allies and partners most threatened by Russian aggression. Our troops stand ready to reinforce the defenses of our Eastern European allies and we are prepared to respond decisively to Russian efforts to undermine the security of the United States at home and abroad. We also call upon our allies to join us in bolstering NATO’s eastern flank.

“The international order established in the aftermath of World War II has not faced such a grave threat since the Cold War. This order, which protects the sovereignty and territorial integrity of nations, has enabled an unprecedented era of peace and prosperity for the United States and its allies. Unfortunately, Russia is threatening this system, and the United States is prepared to meet this challenge with bipartisan and unified resolve,” they added.

Kevin Derby
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