Skip to main content

Time to hold Russia accountable for its aggression

By Robert Menendez
updated 1:22 PM EDT, Thu March 27, 2014
A man looks at a bullet shell next to a destroyed car after a gunfight between pro-Russian militiamen and Ukrainian forces in Karlivka, Ukraine, on Friday, May 23. Much of Ukraine's unrest has been centered in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, where separatists have claimed independence from the government in Kiev. A man looks at a bullet shell next to a destroyed car after a gunfight between pro-Russian militiamen and Ukrainian forces in Karlivka, Ukraine, on Friday, May 23. Much of Ukraine's unrest has been centered in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, where separatists have claimed independence from the government in Kiev.
HIDE CAPTION
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
32
33
34
35
36
37
38
39
40
41
42
43
44
45
46
47
48
49
50
51
52
53
54
55
56
57
58
59
60
61
62
63
64
65
66
67
68
69
70
71
72
73
74
75
76
77
78
79
80
81
82
83
84
85
86
87
88
89
90
91
92
93
94
95
96
97
98
99
100
101
102
103
104
105
106
107
108
109
110
111
112
113
114
115
116
117
118
119
120
121
122
123
124
125
126
127
128
129
130
131
132
133
134
135
136
137
138
139
140
141
142
143
144
145
146
147
148
149
150
151
152
153
154
155
156
157
158
159
160
161
162
163
164
165
166
167
168
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Sen. Robert Menendez says Russia's moves into Ukraine require a swift response
  • Soviet era is over, but Putin dreams of Russia dominating its neighbors, he says
  • But Putin, he says, has miscalculated
  • Menendez: Congress must pass tough measures to continue the pressure on Russia

Editor's note: Sen. Robert Menendez, D-New Jersey, is chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

(CNN) -- During this period of stunning upheaval and chaos, where Russian actions in Ukraine are reminiscent of a bygone era of Soviet rule, we have arrived at a crossroads for the international order.

The question before us, from Washington to Warsaw, is not which direction will we turn, but rather how decisively we will move to support Ukraine in the face of Russia's illegitimate annexation of Crimea.

The aggression against Ukraine by a Russian president who romanticizes about Soviet greatness and views the last two decades as a historical misstep is the most recent example in a series of events involving disruptive Russian behavior throughout the world.

In Syria, President Vladimir Putin is actively propping up President Bashar al-Assad and perpetuating the world's worst humanitarian disaster.

Sen. Robert Menendez
Sen. Robert Menendez

In Iran, the ink of the Joint Plan of Action signed in Geneva, Switzerland, last November was barely dry when reports surfaced that Tehran and Moscow were negotiating an oil-for-goods swap worth $1.5 billion a month and plans were made public for joint Russia/Iran cooperation in building a new nuclear plant.

Today, our concern is for Ukraine. Tomorrow, it could be for Georgia again, or perhaps Moldova, two nations waiting to formalize closer ties to Europe through an association agreement with the European Union -- the exact same process Ukraine was pursuing to the displeasure of the Russian government.

Putin has miscalculated. He has ignited a dangerous Soviet-style game of Russian roulette with the international community, and we cannot blink. He must understand that we will never accept this violation of international law in Ukraine.

The unity of purpose displayed at the U.N. Security Council, by the EU and by the G7 nations in support of Ukrainian autonomy and in opposition to Russian authoritarianism demonstrates the world's outrage.

That collective attitude was punctuated by the EU agreeing on a framework for its first sanctions against Russia since the Cold War.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee, where I serve as chairman, is playing an integral role in the U.S. response to this crisis.

Obama takes a swipe at Putin
Fareed's Take: Putin's Crimea invasion
Inside Politics: Obama v. Romney & Putin

The Senate overwhelmingly passed legislation on Thursday I sponsored with Ranking Member Bob Corker (R-TN) that provides an aid package of $1 billion in loan guarantees for Ukraine. It authorizes $50 million for democracy, governance and civil society assistance and $100 million for enhanced security cooperation for Ukraine and other states in Central and Eastern Europe.

It directs the Obama administration to assist the Ukrainian government in identifying, securing and recovering assets linked to acts of corruption by former Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, members of his family or other former or current Ukrainian government officials.

It requires additional sanctions, complementing the President's executive order, against Ukrainians and Russians alike responsible for violence and serious human rights abuses against anti-government protesters and those responsible for undermining the peace, security, stability, sovereignty or territorial integrity of Ukraine.

Finally, it authorizes sanctions on Russians complicit in or responsible for significant corruption in Ukraine.

Our international message of unity must be supported by demonstrating that the annexation of Crimea will not stand.

We are at a dangerous moment in history, with global consequences, and the world is watching.

If we do not act, what will China say when it's looking at its territorial desires in the South China Sea?

What will Iran say when we are negotiating about nuclear weapons?

What about North Korea, whose march to nuclear weapons on a greater scale is still in play?

Ukrainian sovereignty cannot be violated for simply looking westward and embracing ideals rooted in freedom. Those principles are the guideposts of our trans-Atlantic strategic response to international events, and we must respond together.

The challenge that faces us on both sides of the Atlantic is clear: Can a united trans-Atlantic vision and our collective commitment to bold actions in this century match the vision and commitment of those who created the international institutions which brought peace and prosperity to millions in the last century?

If the U.S. and our European allies live, lead, and govern, guided by shared values and united by our common concerns, we can play the stabilizing force for the world through these challenging times.

Congress will not be reticent in using all tools available in demonstrating our resolve that Russia's aggressive and brutal behavior is unacceptable.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion.

Join us on Facebook.com/CNNOpinion.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Sen. Robert Menendez.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 3:47 PM EDT, Wed October 1, 2014
Julian Zelizer says Jimmy Carter's message about the need to restore trust in public officials is a vital one, decades after the now 90-year-old he first voiced it
updated 5:56 PM EDT, Wed October 1, 2014
Ford Vox says mistakes and missed opportunities along the line to a diagnosis of Ebola in a Liberian man have put Dallas residents at risk of fatal infection
updated 6:21 PM EDT, Wed October 1, 2014
Pepper Schwartz says California is trying, but its law requiring step-by-step consent is just not the way hot and heavy sex proceeds on college campuses
updated 10:17 PM EDT, Wed October 1, 2014
Mike Downey says long-suffering fans, waiting for good playoff news since 1985, finally get something to cheer about
updated 5:39 PM EDT, Wed October 1, 2014
Steve Israel saysJohn Boehner's Congress and the tea party will be remembered for shutting down government one year ago
updated 8:15 AM EDT, Thu October 2, 2014
Yep. You read the headline right, says Peter Bergen, writing on the new government that stresses national unity
updated 7:12 PM EDT, Wed October 1, 2014
Hong Kong's pro-democracy demonstrators are but the latest freedom group to be abandoned by the Obama administration, says Mike Gonzalez
updated 12:53 PM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
Jeff Yang calls Ello a wakeup call to Facebook and Twitter, and a sign of hope for fast-rising upstarts Pinterest and Snapchat.
updated 10:23 AM EDT, Wed October 1, 2014
Paul Waldman says the Secret Service should examine its procedures to make sure there are no threats to the White House--but without losing the openness so valuable to democracy
updated 10:55 AM EDT, Wed October 1, 2014
Jesse Williams says the videotape and 911 call that resulted in police gunning down John Crawford at a Walmart reveals the fatal injustice of racial assumptions
updated 7:03 PM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
Mel Robbins says officials should drop the P.C. pose: The beheading in Oklahoma was not workplace violence. Plenty of evidence shows Alton Nolen was an admirer of ISIS.
updated 3:11 PM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
The Occupy Central movement has already achieved much by bringing greater attention to Hong Kong's struggle for democracy, William Piekos says..
updated 3:11 PM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
The Occupy Central movement has already achieved much by bringing greater attention to Hong Kong's struggle for democracy, writes William Piekos.
updated 10:13 AM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
As Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits America, Madeleine Albright says a world roiled by conflict needs these two great democracies to commit to moving their partnership forward
updated 10:04 AM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
John Sutter: Lake Providence, Louisiana, is the parish seat of the "most unequal place in America." And until somewhat recently, the poor side of town was invisible on Google Street View.
updated 9:11 AM EDT, Mon September 29, 2014
Julian Zelizer says in the run up to the 2016 election the party faces divisions on its approach to the U.S.'s place in the world
updated 10:19 AM EDT, Mon September 29, 2014
Ruben Navarrette says Common Core supporters can't devise a new set of standards and then fail to effectively sell it.
updated 9:29 AM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
Earlier this month, Kenyans commemorated the heinous attack on the Westgate Mall in Nairobi.
updated 2:59 PM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
David Wheeler says Colorado students are right to protest curriculum changes that downplays civil disobedience.
updated 9:58 PM EDT, Fri September 26, 2014
Sally Kohn says when people click on hacked celebrity photos or ISIS videos, they are encouraging the bad guys.
updated 7:55 AM EDT, Fri September 26, 2014
Loren Bunche says she walked by a homeless man every day and felt bad about it -- until one day she paused to get to know him
updated 9:32 AM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
ISIS grabs headlines on social media, but hateful speech is no match for moderate voices, says Nadia Oweidat.
updated 8:33 AM EDT, Mon September 29, 2014
A new report counts jihadists fighting globally. The verdict? The threat isn't that big, says Peter Bergen.
updated 5:37 PM EDT, Tue September 23, 2014
Ebola could become the biggest humanitarian disaster in a generation, writes former British Prime Minister Tony Blair
updated 12:58 PM EDT, Fri September 26, 2014
ISIS has shocked the world. But will releasing videos of executions backfire? Four experts give their take.
updated 10:39 AM EDT, Fri September 26, 2014
Eric Holder kicked off his stormy tenure as attorney general with a challenge to the public that set tone for six turbulent years as top law-enforcement officer.
updated 9:09 AM EDT, Fri September 26, 2014
LZ Granderson says Obama was elected as a war-ending change agent, not a leader who would leave behind for his successor new engagement in Iraq and Syria. Is he as disappointed as the rest of us?
updated 5:10 AM EDT, Wed September 24, 2014
Gayle Lemmon says the question now is how to translate all the high-profile feminizing into real gains for women
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT