The aim of the “Russian Aggression Prevention Act of 2014” is to create “a strategic U.S. response to deter Russian aggression in Europe,” according to press releases from the group that includes Georgia Sen. Johnny Isakson. He said in a Wednesday statement: “There must be consequences for the rogue actions taken by the Russian Federation and those responsible for undermining the sovereignty, integrity and government of Ukraine.”
Sen. John McCain of Arizona said the legislation was introduced “for one simple reason: The U.S. and European response to Russia’s aggression in Ukraine is failing. It is failing not because we are doing nothing, but because nothing we are doing has changed President Putin’s calculus. This weak response is not deterring Putin, and in fact, it is actually inviting further acts of aggression.”
McCain said the GOP group believes “it is our responsibility to offer a better alternative.” He said the Obama administration “is not imposing enough costs on Russia. Our legislation would.”
As outlined by Isakson, the bill “increases substantially U.S. and NATO support for the armed forces of Poland, Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia, as well as other countries determined appropriate by the president.” The bill “requires the president to accelerate implementation of missile defense in Europe and provide other missile defense support for our NATO allies.”
To deter further Russian aggression, the bill would impose immediate new sanctions on four key Russian banks, Sberbank, VTB Bank, VEB Bank, Gasprombank and the Russian government-owned gas monopoly Gazprom, weapons exporter Rosoboronexport and the giant oil business, Rosneft and their subsidiaries as well as senior Russian national executives.
The bill would authorize the president “to provide $100 million worth of direct military assistance to Ukraine, including anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons and small arms, based on a needs and capabilities assessment of the Ukrainian armed forces.” It would authorize exports of U.S. natural gas to all World Trade Organization member countries, including key European nations and support U.S. private sector investment in energy projects in Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova.
You might think the other 25 Republican senators, including Georgia’s other senator, Saxby Chambliss, would have signed on as cosponsors. After all, Chambliss is a member of the Armed Services Committee and vice chairman of the Select Committee on Intelligence. Other senators not on the list of sponsors include potential presidential candidate Ted Cruz of Texas, while Marco Rubio of Florida is on the list. From the standpoint of making a statement, 45 senators would be far more impressive than 20.
But who signed and who didn’t probably makes no difference. In view of the Democratic stranglehold on the Senate, the bill is not likely to get out of committee.