US Senate panel close to approving ‘mother of all sanctions’ against Russia
The leaders of the Senate foreign relations committee said on Sunday they were on the verge of approving “the mother of all sanctions” against Vladimir Putin, warning there would be no appeasement as the Russian president contemplates an invasion of Ukraine.
“We cannot have a Munich moment again,” the panel’s Democratic chair, Bob Menendez, told CNN, referring to the 1938 agreement by which allies ceded parts of Czechoslovakia to Hitler, believing it would stave off war.
“Putin will not stop if he believes the west will not respond,” Menendez said. “We saw what he did in 2008 in Georgia, we saw what he did in 2014 in pursuit of Crimea. He will not stop.”
Menendez said he believed bipartisan negotiations for severe sanctions were “on the one-yard line”, despite disagreements with Republicans over whether measures should be imposed before or after any Russian invasion. The UK government promised to ramp up sanctions against Putin and his associates.
On Sunday, Kyiv urged Moscow to pull back its troops from Ukraine’s border and continue dialogue with the west if it was “serious” about de-escalating tensions that have soared amid fears of a Russian invasion.
Meanwhile, NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg, said Europe needed to diversify its energy supplies, saying the situation “demonstrates the vulnerability of being too dependent on one supplier of natural gas”.
Tensions on the Ukraine border have continued to escalate, with Reuters reporting the Russian military build-up included supplies of blood in anticipation of casualties.
Menendez said that there is an incredible bipartisan resolve for support of Ukraine, and an incredibly strong bipartisan resolve to have severe consequences for Russia if it invades, and in some cases for what it has already done.
The mother of all sanctions include a variety of elements, massive sanctions against the most significant Russian banks, crippling to their economy, Russia sovereign debt. “These are sanctions beyond any that we have ever levied before,” said Menendez.
Menendez said he believed western allies did not have to wait to start penalising Putin.
“There are some sanctions that could take place up front because of what Russia has already done, cyber attacks on Ukraine, false flag operations, the efforts to undermine the Ukrainian government internally,” he said.
Dick Durbin, co-chair of the Senate Ukraine caucus, in a statement to NBC addressed concerns aired by President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Friday that growing rhetoric over the crisis was causing panic and destabilising his country’s economy.
Republican Rob Portman of Ohio, who is also on the foreign relations committee, told NBC he believed Putin had underestimated the unity of Nato and others.
“One thing Vladimir Putin has done successfully is he has strengthened the transatlantic alliance and countries around the world who are looking at this and saying, ‘We cannot let this stand, we cannot let this happen’,” Portman said.