Republican senators introduced their own sanctions package to deter Russian President Vladimir Putin from invading Ukraine and to show support and provide assistance to Ukraine and Europe in the event of a Russian invasion, leading to questions about whether bipartisan negotiations over sanctions have ended on Capitol Hill.
The GOP-led sanctions package comes after weeks of failed negotiations between bipartisan senators. Senators could not agree on whether to include sanctions that deal with the controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline. The Republican proposal could be a negotiating tactic to get Democrats to reopen discussions on a bipartisan sanctions package.
But in order to make any kind of congressional sanctions package impactful, senators need to move quickly. Russia has amassed more than 130,000 troops near Ukraine’s border in recent weeks, according to US estimates, and Putin continues to add to his “menu of options” militarily, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said during a news briefing Monday.
The proposed Republican sanctions package, introduced as the Never Yielding Europe’s Territory (NYET) Act, would “mandate sanctions” on the Nord Stream 2 project “without a waiver should Russia invade,” a release about the Act said.
The bill would sanction Putin’s “cronies, enablers and major banks,” and it would provide $500 million in Foreign Military Financing for Ukraine. Out of the $500 million, $250 million of that would be “emergency funding,” and $100 million would be for “emergency lethal assistance for critical capabilities like air defense, anti-armor and anti-ship capabilities.”
The proposed funding in this bill would be in addition to funding the US government has already given to Ukraine. In 2021, the US delivered about $450 million in security assistance to Ukraine, Kirby said in December. Since 2014, when Russia invaded and occupied the Crimean peninsula, the US has provided more than $2.5 billion in aid to Ukraine.
On Monday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced that the US government “is offering a sovereign loan guarantee to Ukraine of up to $1 billion to support its economic reform agenda and continued engagement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).”
The package would also double US “funding for US military exercises in Europe,” and it would create a new State Department Foreign Military Financing program for Eastern Europe to “help European allies strengthen their own defensive capabilities,” the release said.
Sen. Tim Kaine, a Democrat from Virginia who serves on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said he was disappointed senators had not come to a bipartisan agreement on a sanctions package.
“I wish we had” come up with a bipartisan sanctions package, Kaine said, but he cautioned that sanctions can sometimes make it harder for leaders to take a “diplomatic offramp, because they don’t want to look like oh we had to back down because of the sanctions.”
In lieu of an agreement on a sanctions package, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told reporters Tuesday that he’s in talks with Republicans to draft a non-binding resolution that would reinforce the US position that Congress stands with the people of Ukraine and against Russian aggression.