U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, today released the following statement:
“Today marks one year since Vladimir Putin’s Russia launched an unprovoked attack on its peaceful neighbor, Ukraine. Over the last year, Ukrainians have displayed resolve, fortitude, bravery and resourcefulness as they have defended their country against Russia’s brutal invasion.
“The United States, our NATO allies and democracies around the world have rallied to support Ukraine. When the invasion began on February 24, 2022, few imagined where we would be today. Putin erroneously believed that Kyiv would fall in a few days, and that the government of President Zelenskyy would flee. But Putin and his generals could not have been more wrong. The credit for Ukraine’s successful resistance goes mostly to the valor and resilience of Ukrainian soldiers and volunteers, but they have been helped in great measure by the unprecedented assistance provided by the United States and our allies in training, intelligence sharing, humanitarian and financial assistance, and significant amounts of modern military equipment. I was proud to support bipartisan efforts in Congress to approve more than $113 billion in assistance to Ukraine so far.
“For its brutal and unwarranted invasion, Russia has already suffered a huge price in blood and treasure: its military losses have been enormous; its economy battered by the effects of sanctions; its standing as a member of the world community damaged beyond repair. Its attempt to unilaterally upend the order that maintained peace and prosperity in Europe since 1945 must not succeed.
“Ukrainians have demonstrated that they do not want to be part of Russia: they want freedom, democracy and the right to choose their own path. It is for these principles that so many Americans take for granted that so many Ukrainians have laid down their lives. One year into their wholly justified defense of their freedoms, it is my hope that a way forward can be found to end this war while preserving Ukraine’s indisputable right to exist as a sovereign nation.”
WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, released a statement following Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s address to Congress:
“President Zelenskyy and the Ukrainian people have displayed tremendous determination and resolve over the last 10 months as they have defended their country against Russia’s unprovoked and brutal invasion. I am proud that the United States has led the world in support of Ukraine’s efforts to defend itself, and tonight’s address underscored the importance of continuing this work. We will continue to stand with the Ukrainian people, and our NATO allies, to back Ukraine - including roughly $45 billion in additional military and economic assistance to Ukraine that will be approved by Congress this week.”
ICYMI: Sen. Warner on MSNBC's Morning Joe
Oct 12 2022
WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) appeared on MSNBC’s Morning Joe to discuss the latest developments on the war in Ukraine as the winter months approach, and the impact of the war on global energy prices.
On the current status of the Ukraine war:
“Things [for Russia] are not going to get better. And I think this is why, you know there are a lot things that I disagree with the administration on, but moving us in concert with our European allies has been really important. The solidarity of NATO is really important. What happens next? We're in uncharted territory. The next month between now and when the winter sets in in the middle of November, we hope the Ukrainians will be able to take Kherson and drive the Russian troops back across the Dnieper River, but it's going to be a wild few weeks.”
On additional aid to Ukraine:
“I think we should send more anti-missile defense weapons, but I do think that we've got to walk this careful line where you don't give carte blanche to the Ukrainians to have additional strikes into Russia itself. And at the same time, you've got to not get so ahead of the Europeans that they all of a sudden say, okay, America, you put up $65 billion, we're going to make you carry the whole burden. So I do think this is a navigation of a very, very challenging time. And on this one, I give the administration high marks.”
On the impact of Saudi Arabia’s decision to cut oil production:
“I'm as angry at Saudi Arabia and their irresponsibility as anyone. But I think even as you guys said on this show yesterday, you know, the truth is, certain areas, obviously, we have huge conflicts with Saudi Arabia -- but in other areas, as a counterbalance to Iran, in terms of being an ally over many decades. We've got to sort this through in a way that puts pressure on the Saudis, but does not drive them more into the Russia camp. One of the things I think would be, you know -- and I don't think this would mean backing off from our climate change goals -- but if we can replace some of those fuel sources coming out of the Middle East with American fuel sources, particularly as we transition to cleaner energy generation, I think that's good national security, that's good economic security, and it would be a tangible pushback against the Saudis.”
Video of Sen. Warner’s interview on Morning Joe can be found here. A transcript follows.
MSNBC’s Morning Joe
MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Well, joining us now, Democratic Senator Mark Warner of Virginia. He's Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and to Willie's point, Senator, we were talking earlier with Admiral Kirby about this. It seems Vladimir Putin has been in a corner, and everyone talks about what the off-ramp is, how this ends. Obviously, most people would like this to end with Russia moving back out of Ukraine. And yet he continues to push himself more into a corner, almost without -- indiscriminately, without any thought for himself about an off-ramp, with a war that is going terribly for him. How do you deal with a leader that doesn't seem to care that he's in a corner?
U.S. SEN. MARK WARNER: Carefully. You know, this is a guy that's been an autocratic leader for 20-plus years. In the COVID environment, his number of advisers he's talking to gets smaller and smaller. You've seen not only the Russian military perform horribly on the field, you have seen a united West. You've seen NATO and our allies in Asia, all stand up against him. And now with this conscription, you know, what's not -- what's gotten some public reporting, but Russia has lost over 200,000 military-aged men, exiting the country.
BRZEZINSKI: More people leaving --
SEN. WARNER: Than being conscripted. So how he maintains that, the attacks, nobody is attacking the boss yet, nobody is attacking Putin, but the folks around the boss, some of his military advisers, they're under constant assault as well, from within Russia.
BRZEZINKSKI: But that seems dicey, too.
JOE SCARBOROUGH: So what scares you the most about a cornered Vladimir Putin? Because things are not going to get better for Russia.
SEN. WARNER: Things are not going to get better. And I think this is why, you know there are a lot things that I disagree with the administration on, but moving us in concert with our European allies has been really important. The solidarity of NATO is really important. What happens next? We're in uncharted territory. The next month between now and when the winter sets in in the middle of November, we hope the Ukrainians will be able to take Kherson and drive the Russian troops back across the Dnieper River, but it's going to be a wild few weeks.
SCARBOROUGH: Any suggestion that when winter comes, when things freeze in place, that negotiations can begin?
SEN. WARNER: Again, I think there's some speculation. Is there a fully thought-through plan? Absolutely not. And again, with every Ukrainian success, frankly, the maneuverability of Zelensky, the Ukrainian president, gets mitigated, as well.
BRZEZINKSI: And you say it's going to be a wild few weeks.
SEN. WARNER: Because once you get mid-November, at least for the next few months, because of the winter, it will -- troops will freeze in place in a sense, and then we'll see also some of the ramifications of, will the Europeans stay strong when their energy costs go through the roof this winter? One of the reasons why, frankly, it would be good national policy as well as economic policy, we ought to continue to make sure that American oil and gas are in this mixture – and why we need to go ahead and revisit permitting reforms, so that particularly in terms of American natural gas, we can supply that supply, rather than counting on friends, or not-so-good of friends in the Middle East.
SCARBOROUGH: Jonathan Lemire is in New York and has a question for you. I hope he has a question for you.
JONATHAN LAMIRE: Senator Warner, good to see you. There's been a debate in Washington, as you well know, for several months about the U.S. sending enough weapons to Ukraine to defend itself, but not so much that it could perhaps escalate the war with incursions or attacks deep into Russia. In the wake of what happed over the weekend, U.S. officials are saying, hey, we're going to send more defense weapons, but still seem to hesitate going further than that, despite Kyiv asking for it. Where do you stand? What sort of weapons should the United States be sending?
SEN. WARNER: Jonathan, I think we should send more anti-missile defense weapons, but I do think that we've got to walk this careful line where you don't give carte blanche to the Ukrainians to have additional strikes into Russia itself. And at the same time, you've got to not get so ahead of the Europeans that they all of a sudden say, okay, America, you put up $65 billion, we're going to make you carry the whole burden. So I do think this is a navigation of a very, very challenging time. And on this one, I give the administration high marks.
WILLIE GEIST: Mr. Chairman, Let me ask you about one of your colleagues in the Senate, a fellow chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Bob Menendez, on the topic of Saudi Arabia. Who after Saudi Arabia's announcement of OPEC's, OPEC plus's handling of oil prices and the barrels of oil that they release or won't release said basically, we need to freeze our relationship with Saudi Arabia, including arms sales. Says they're underwriting Russia's war. They're backing Russia against Ukraine. Do you agree with him that we need to freeze our relations with Saudi Arabia?
SEN. WARNER: Listen, I'm as angry at Saudi Arabia and their irresponsibility as anyone. But I think even as you guys said on this show yesterday, you know, the truth is, certain areas, obviously, we have huge conflicts with Saudi Arabia -- but in other areas, as a counterbalance to Iran, in terms of being an ally over many decades. We've got to sort this through in a way that puts pressure on the Saudis, but does not drive them more into the Russia camp. One of the things I think would be, you know -- and I don't think this would mean backing off from our climate change goals -- but if we can replace some of those fuel sources coming out of the Middle East with American fuel sources, particularly as we transition to cleaner energy generation, I think that's good national security, that's good economic security, and it would be a tangible pushback against the Saudis.
SCARBOROUGH: And shouldn't we have more -- for national security purposes, and also, so we're less dependent?
SEN. WARNER: Absolutely.
SCARBOROUGH: Shouldn't we increase energy production in the United States, understanding, let me say to my friends, understanding, we're in the middle of an energy transition right now. But we have the ability to be less dependent on Russia. To be less dependent on Saudi Arabia, to be less dependent on Venezuela. These people that are talking about, oh, we can't drill at home, because it's bad for the environment, let's get dirty oil from Venezuela.
SEN. WARNER: Well the wild thing is, Joe, particularly, let's go back to natural gas for a moment. We don't even need to drill more if we simply utilize what we've already drilled. We've got to have the transmission capability to get that to places in our country, and frankly to be able to export to our European friends. You’re going to see costs, I've been told, in January in the UK, where an average home will get $5,000 per-year energy costs. Now, the British government will subsidize that, bring it back down to a reasonable number. But how long can any government do that with a very cold winter in front of them.
SCARBOROUGH: Let's talk about China. How do they play into what's happening right now in Russia.
SEN. WARNER: I think you've got the Chinese economic team, who are concerned about this alliance or friendship that has no bounds. I think Xi and Putin said.
SCARBOROUGH: It does have bounds.
SEN. WARNER: The personal relationship between these two autocratic leaders is a real challenge for all of us who live in democracies. I think the long-term challenge of our time, candidly is not Russia, but it is going to be China's attempted to dominate technology field after technology field. We in this country have stepped up on semiconductors. We've pointed out the problems with Huawei in terms of next-generation wireless. I know my committee is taking a big look at synthetic biology and next generation energy generation, and making sure that we in our country maintain the technology edge. And that's going to take the kind of investments perhaps in other domains the way we just did in semiconductors.
BRZEZINSKI: Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Democratic Senator Mark Warner of Virginia.
WASHINGTON – Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Mark R. Warner (D-VA) and Vice Chairman Marco Rubio (R-FL) led bipartisan members of the Senate Intelligence Committee in urging the Biden administration to increase sanctions on enablers of Vladimir Putin’s regime amidst its unprovoked and illegal war in Ukraine.
In a letter to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, the senators wrote, “While many of the Putin regime’s top figures are already subject to United States, European, and other nations’ sanctions, we believe it is important that lower-tier enablers of the regime’s aggressive policies, including its militarists, propagandists, corrupt officials, public supporters, senior federal officials, and legislators, also be subject to a sanctions regime to ensure that they cannot continue to support Russia’s reprehensible aggression, yet benefit from assets, vacations, or educational opportunities in the West.”
Specifically, the senators urged the administration to take into account the list of 6,000 such Russian officials and regime enablers compiled by the Anti-Corruption Foundation of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny.
Added the senators, “The goal of such sanctions should be to ensure that these individuals do not have access to assets in the United States or ability to travel to the U.S.; force them to leave their posts, thereby hollowing out the Putin regime’s capacity to continue its unjust war; and pressure such officials to denounce publicly Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and the corruption of the Putin regime.”
In addition to Sens. Warner and Rubio, the letter was signed by Sens. Ron Wyden (D-OR), Jim Risch (R-ID), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Susan Collins (R-ME), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), John Cornyn (R-TX), and Ben Sasse (R-NE).
A copy of the letter is available here and below.
Dear Secretary Yellen:
We write to you regarding the need to increase sanctions on enablers of the Putin regime in Russia, including those who provide support for Russia’s unjustified invasion of Ukraine.
While many of the Putin regime’s top figures are already subject to United States, European, and other nations’ sanctions, we believe it is important that lower-tier enablers of the regime’s aggressive policies, including its militarists, propagandists, corrupt officials, public supporters, senior federal officials, and legislators, also be subject to a sanctions regime to ensure that they cannot continue to support Russia’s reprehensible aggression, yet benefit from assets, vacations, or educational opportunities in the West.
Specifically, we urge you to take into account the list of 6,000 such Russian officials and regime enablers compiled by the Anti-Corruption Foundation of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny.
The goal of such sanctions should be to ensure that these individuals do not have access to assets in the United States or ability to travel to the U.S.; force them to leave their posts, thereby hollowing out the Putin regime’s capacity to continue its unjust war; and pressure such officials to denounce publicly Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and the corruption of the Putin regime.
On May 19, 2022, the European Parliament passed a resolution similarly calling for greater sanctions to impose consequences for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, including calling “to extend the list of individuals directly targeted by EU sanctions, including Russian oligarchs, taking into account the list of 6,000 individuals presented by Navalny’s Foundation.”
We stand ready to assist you as needed in implementing these targeted sanctions.
Statement of U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine on Passage of $40 Billion Aid Package for Ukraine
May 19 2022
WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner, Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and Tim Kaine, who serves on the Senate Foreign Relations and Armed Services Committees, issued the following statement after voting to pass a $40 billion military and humanitarian aid package for Ukraine:
“Putin’s illegal war in Ukraine underscores the importance of democracies around the world sticking together to stand against authoritarians who violate international law and commit war crimes. Today’s vote is another powerful signal that the United States is committed to that principle, and we’re going to keep working to ensure that we remain a very strong ally of Ukraine.”
Behind the scenes and in public, Chairman Warner has been a strong advocate for the $5 billion in food aid included in this bill to support non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that have been working since day one to address the dire humanitarian crisis caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Among other efforts, Chairman Warner has also pushed to ensure the effectiveness of U.S. sanctions on Russia. Earlier this year, he introduced legislation with a group of lawmakers aimed at preventing Russian oligarchs from using digital currencies to avoid the full brunt of the sanctions.
Sen. Kaine has been a consistent advocate for both directing assistance to Ukraine and ensuring Americans aren’t complicit in Russia’s unjustified war. Kaine was one of the first members of Congress to call for a war crimes investigation into Russia’s actions, and applauded International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor Karim Khan’s announcement that he would launch such an investigation. To ensure that the United States is doing its part in a coordinated effort to collect and maintain evidence of Russia’s war crimes and atrocities, Kaine teamed up with a bipartisan group of colleagues to introduce the Ukraine Invasion War Crimes Deterrence and Accountability Act.
Broadcast-quality video of Sen. Warner speaking about the legislation is available here.
Broadcast-quality video of Sen. Kaine speaking about the legislation is available here.
The aid package is now headed to President Biden’s desk for signature.
Warner, Warren, Reed, Tester, Colleagues Introduce the Digital Asset Sanctions Compliance Enhancement Act of 2022
Mar 17 2022
WASHINGTON - Today, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Mark Warner (D-VA), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jack Reed (D-RI), and Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee Chair Jon Tester (D-MT) introduced the Digital Asset Sanctions Compliance Enhancement Act to ensure that Vladimir Putin and Russian elites don't use digital assets to undermine the international community’s economic sanctions against Russia following its invasion of Ukraine. The senators’ bill comes amid bipartisan concerns and warnings by federal agencies that Russian actors may try to evade economic sanctions by using digital currencies. Countries hit hard by sanctions, including North Korea and Iran, have been previously found to use cryptocurrency to curb the effects of economic sanctions. This legislation is cosponsored by Sens. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Raphael Warnock (D-GA), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Tina Smith (D-MN), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), and Bob Menendez (D-NJ).
“In order for the sanctions levied by the United States and our allies to have the maximum impact on Vladimir Putin and his oligarch friends, we must close off avenues they might use to evade those sanctions. This legislation will crack down on foreign actors who help sanctioned Russians use digital assets like cryptocurrencies to circumvent the crippling measures we’ve put in place to punish Russia for its barbaric invasion of Ukraine,” said Sen. Warner.
“Putin and his cronies can move, store, and hide their wealth using cryptocurrencies, potentially allowing them to evade the historic economic sanctions the U.S. and its partners across the world have levied in response to Russia’s war against Ukraine. I'm glad to introduce the Digital Asset Sanctions Compliance Enhancement Act with my colleagues to strengthen our sanctions program and close off any avenues for Russian evasion,” said Sen. Warren.
“The U.S. and its allies have imposed some of the strongest sanctions in history to try to stop Putin and his cronies from waging war on Ukraine. A sanctions system without strong authorities to limit evasion using digital assets is like having a security system but leaving the front door open. This bill would clarify Treasury’s authorities and strengthen our sanctions on Putin and his enablers,” said Sen. Reed.
“Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked war in Ukraine is a threat to democracies everywhere, and if we are going to hold him and his cronies accountable, we have to be sure they aren’t using digital tools to evade sanctions,” said Sen. Tester. “I’m proud to introduce this legislation that will make sure we isolate Putin and sends a message to America’s adversaries that folks who threaten freedom and democracy around the world cannot hide from the consequences of their actions.”
“We’ve imposed devastating sanctions on Russia, and we must ensure that there aren’t any loopholes that would allow Putin and his oligarchs to evade them,” said Sen. Cortez Masto. “This legislation gives the U.S. the tools it needs to crack down on any entity using cryptocurrency to trade with sanctioned banks or individuals. We must do all we can to completely isolate Putin, and that includes strengthening the enforcement mechanisms in all of our economic measures.”
“Digital currencies can offer the Russian government and wealthy oligarchs an opportunity to evade the sanctions that President Biden has enacted on Russia as Putin continues to wage his unprovoked and inexcusable war of choice against Ukraine,” said Sen. Duckworth. “The United States can do more to ensure Putin and his cronies feel the full weight of the free world’s sanctions, which is one reason I’m proud to help introduce this legislation with Senator Warren to crack down on cryptocurrency exchanges that engage with Russian entities.”
“Russia must be held accountable for its cold-blooded, unprovoked attack on Ukraine. We’ve seen how economic sanctions can deliverer a major blow to the Russian economy, but we must do everything in our power to prevent Putin and his corrupt cronies from circumventing these sanctions using cryptocurrencies. This legislation provides the necessary tools to monitor and shut down any such loopholes,” said Sen. Van Hollen.
The Digital Asset Sanctions Compliance Enhancement Act would combat the risk of Russian actors from using digital assets to evade international sanctions by discouraging foreign crypto firms from doing business with sanctioned Russian elites, providing the Administration with authority to suspend transactions with Russia-linked crypto addresses, and increasing transparency around crypto holdings.
Specifically, the Digital Asset Sanctions Compliance Enhancement Act would close potential avenues for evasion of sanctions against Russia by:
- Requiring the President to identify foreign digital asset actors that are facilitating evasion of sanctions against Russia, and authorizing the President to sanction such actors, prohibiting their transactions with U.S. persons and blocking their assets.
- Providing the Treasury Secretary clear authority to prohibit digital asset trading platforms and transaction facilitators under U.S. jurisdiction from transacting with cryptocurrency addresses that are known to be, or could reasonably be known to be, in Russia.
- Directing FinCEN to require U.S. taxpayers engaged in a transaction with a value greater than $10K of cryptocurrency offshore to file FinCEN Form 114 (FBAR).
- Requiring the Treasury Department to report on its progress in implementing these provisions, including any resources needed by the Department to improve implementation and progress in coordinating with foreign partners.
- Requiring the Treasury Department to issue a public report identifying foreign digital asset trading platforms that are determined to be high risk for sanctions evasion, money laundering, or other illicit activities.
Earlier this month, Sens. Warren, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Mark Warner, Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Chairman Sherrod Brown, and Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jack Reed led a letter to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen raising concerns regarding the potential use of cryptocurrency to evade sanctions, which have become even more urgent amid the sanctions imposed on Russia after their invasion of Ukraine.
WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, released the following statement following Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s address to Congress:
“I was incredibly moved by President Zelenskyy’s words this morning and by the powerful images of the destruction inflicted on the Ukrainian people as a result of Russia’s indiscriminate attacks on civilian targets. As President Zelenskyy noted, the U.S. has already taken unprecedented steps to rally the world to isolate Russia economically and to support Ukraine’s efforts to defend itself. We should heed President Zelenskyy’s call for additional defensive aid including anti-tank weapons and anti-aircraft missiles and for new sanctions on those responsible for supporting the Russian government’s barbaric invasion of a peaceful and sovereign neighbor.”
WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, released the following statement on President Biden’s decision to ban Russian oil imports amid Russia’s ongoing war on Ukraine:
“By banning Russian oil imports, President Biden has made clear once again that Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked war on Ukraine will not go unpunished. Right now, Ukrainians are fighting with their lives against authoritarian rule to preserve the same freedoms we hold sacred. While only three percent of U.S. crude imports come from Russia, we cannot stand with the Ukrainian people while also continuing to support Russia’s energy economy. As the conflict in Ukraine continues to contribute to rising gas prices worldwide, I am committed to working with the administration and my colleagues in Congress to do what we can to address the pain Americans are feeling at the gas pump.”
Last week, Sen. Warner joined Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) in introducing the Ban Russian Energy Imports Act – legislation to prohibit the importation of Russian crude oil, petroleum, petroleum products, liquefied natural gas (LNG) and coal into the United States.
WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, issued the following statement tonight:
“For more than 70 years, we have avoided large-scale war in Europe. With his illegal invasion of Ukraine, Vladimir Putin has tragically brought decades of general peace to an end. Now the U.S. and our NATO allies must stand united and resolute against Putin’s efforts to renew the Russian empire at the expense of the Ukrainian people.
“President Biden has already imposed an initial tranche of sanctions, and it is now time for us to up the pain level for the Russian government. We should also continue to bolster the defenses of our NATO allies while exploring how we can further help the Ukrainian people in their time of need.
“While there is still an opportunity for Russia to reverse course, we can no longer hold out hope that this standoff will be resolved peacefully. Therefore, we must all, on both sides of the aisle and both sides of the Atlantic, work together to demonstrate to Putin that this aggression will not be allowed to go unpunished.
“What is happening in Ukraine is a tragedy not only for Ukraine, but for the Russian people as well. They will pay a steep cost for Putin’s reckless ambition, in blood and in economic harm.”
WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, issued the following statement today after Russian President Vladimir Putin decided to formally recognize the independence of Moscow-backed breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine and ordered troops into those areas:
“I just returned to Washington after several days of meetings with our partners and allies in Munich and in London. My takeaway from those meetings is this: the West has never been as resolute or as unified in standing up to Putin’s brazen, reckless and illegal course of action. The United States and our partners stand with the cause of democracy and with the people of Ukraine at this perilous moment.
“Along with my colleagues in Congress, I support President Biden’s measures to impose significant costs on Russia and its autocratic government in response to its unjustified and unacceptable aggression. Those announced today by the President, taken in coordination with our allies, are a good first step, and we must be prepared to impose additional costs on Putin if he carries through on his threats to further invade Ukraine.
“I will also support measures to bolster the readiness and deterrence of the NATO alliance. While we do not want escalation between nuclear powers, there must be no mistake regarding NATO’s readiness to protect its members and deter Russia’s aggression. Putin’s misguided and dangerous actions will only act to further unify this decades-strong alliance of nations.”
WASHINGTON – Members of the United States Senate and United States House of Representatives participating in the bipartisan Congressional Delegation to the Munich Security Conference today released this statement.
“It now appears increasingly likely that Russian forces will initiate hostilities against a free and peaceful Ukraine. We as a bipartisan delegation will bring home the same unity and resolve we have seen among our Atlantic allies against Russian aggression. We pledge to work toward whatever emergency supplemental legislation will best support our NATO allies and the people of Ukraine, and support freedom and safety around the world. No matter what happens in the coming days, we must assure that the dictator Putin and his corrupt oligarchs pay a devastating price for their decisions.”
The delegation was led by U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-Rhode Island). Congressional participants include Senator Ben Sasse (R-Nebraska), Senator Richard Durbin (D-Illinois), Senator Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota), Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-New Hampshire), Senator Mark Warner (D-Virginia), Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-Alabama), Senator Chris Coons (D-Delaware), Senator Chris Murphy (D-Connecticut), Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Maryland), Representative Mike Turner (R-Ohio), Representative James Langevin (D-Rhode Island), Representative Jim Banks (R-Indiana), Representative Jason Crow (D-Colorado), Representative Buddy Carter (R-Georgia), Representative Tom Malinowski (D-New Jersey), Representative Darrell Issa (R-California), and Representative Elissa Slotkin (D-Michigan).
The MSC is widely considered the world’s leading forum for international security policy. The conference is a “marketplace of ideas” where initiatives and solutions are developed and opinions are exchanged. It also provides a venue for diplomatic initiatives and ideas to cooperatively address the world’s most pressing security concerns.
WASHINGTON – The bipartisan members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, led by Chairman Mark R. Warner (D-VA) and Vice Chairman Marco Rubio (R-FL), today urged President Joe Biden to make sure that the United States is sharing as much intelligence as possible with Ukraine as the country faces a Russian military build-up on its border.
“Vladimir Putin is threatening the freedom and security of the Ukrainian people, and they have shown their eagerness to take action to defend their sovereignty, freedom, and democratically elected government,” the senators wrote in a letter to the president. “To this end, we request that the United States share intelligence with Ukraine to the fullest extent possible. Russia is the aggressor, and we need to arm Ukraine with critical information needed to defend their country. This is in the interest of U.S. national security, as well as that of our allies and partners in the region. Russia’s threats to Ukraine are a threat to democracies around the world, and we urge you to do as much as possible to support Ukraine at this critical moment.”
In addition to Sens. Warner and Rubio, the letter was signed by Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Richard Burr (R-NC), Ron Wyden (D-OR), James Risch (R-ID), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Susan Collins (R-ME), Angus King (I-ME), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Bob Casey (D-PA), John Cornyn (R-TX), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and Ben Sasse (R-NE).
A copy of the letter is available here.
WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, issued the following statement ahead of an expected vote this afternoon on S. 3436, a bill to require the imposition of sanctions with respect to entities responsible for the planning, construction, or operation of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline:
“The bellicose actions and rhetoric that we have seen from Vladimir Putin in recent months represent the latest in a long string of offensive actions by the Russian President. Russia’s armed buildup around Ukraine – on top of the continued occupation of eastern Ukraine and Crimea – represents a serious threat not just to Ukraine, but to the broader peace and stability of Europe, and of the world. The Biden administration is actively engaged in conversations with Russia and with our European partners and allies to de-escalate the situation.
“What the Senate should be doing is reinforcing those ongoing conversations. We could do that by passing legislation that makes clear that accelerated aggression towards Ukraine will only strengthen U.S. assistance for our Ukrainian partners, reinvigorate NATO’s collective defense posture, and bring about devastating consequences for the Russian economy.
“The bill that we’re considering today is neither well-targeted nor well-timed; in the midst of serious diplomatic conversations it takes a shot at our European allies and risks undercutting negotiations. I look forward to working with my bipartisan colleagues to continue advancing the strong support that exists for Ukraine, and backing a clear and resolute stance in opposition to Russian aggression.”
Yesterday, Chairman Warner joined Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and 24 of their Senate Democratic colleagues in introducing the Defending Ukraine Sovereignty Act of 2022, a bill to impose steep costs in the event of a renewed Kremlin invasion of Ukraine.
As Threat of Russian Invasion of Ukraine Looms, Chairman Warner Joins Colleagues in Introducing Bill to Defend Ukraine Sovereignty
Jan 12 2022
WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, joined Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and 24 of their Senate Democratic colleagues in introducing a bill to impose steep costs in the event of a renewed Kremlin invasion of Ukraine. This legislation to help deter a military escalation comes as the Kremlin continues to engage in an unjustified military build-up along Ukraine’s border. The proposal sends a clear message that the United States is prepared to impose devastating consequences for Putin and the Russian economy if he goes down the path of re-invading Ukraine.
“The bellicose actions and rhetoric that we have seen from Vladimir Putin in recent months represent the latest in a long string of offensive actions by the Russian President. Russia’s armed buildup around Ukraine – on top of their continued occupation of eastern Ukraine and Crimea – represents a serious threat not just to Ukraine, but to the broader peace and stability of Europe, and of the world,” said Sen. Warner. “This bill reinforces the message that the Biden administration must be conveying to Russia in face-to-face meetings this week – that accelerated aggression towards Ukraine will only strengthen U.S. assistance for our Ukrainian partners, reinvigorate NATO’s collective defense posture, and bring about devastating consequences for the Russian economy.”
Specifically, the Defending Ukraine Sovereignty Act of 2022 would impose crippling sanctions on the Russian banking sector and senior military and government officials in the case that President Putin chooses to escalate hostile action in or against Ukraine. The bill would also prohibit transactions on Russia’s primary and secondary sovereign debt and authorize sanctions on Russia’s extractive industries as well as on providers of specialized financial messaging services (e.g., SWIFT). To help meet urgent defense needs, the legislation calls upon the Departments of Defense and State to expedite transfer of defense articles to bolster Ukraine’s defense capabilities and authorizes $500 million in supplemental emergency security assistance to Ukraine in the event of a re-invasion by Russia. Lastly, the bill also expands U.S. efforts to counter Kremlin disinformation and strengthen ties with key regional partners facing Kremlin aggression.
As the top Democrat on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Sen. Warner co-led the Committee’s bipartisan investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. As a result of this investigation, the committee issued a comprehensive, five-volume report that concluded the Russian government engaged in an aggressive, multi-faceted effort to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election, and that the willingness of top officials on the Trump campaign to accept and even welcome Russian assistance represented a grave counterintelligence threat to our nation.
Text of the bill is available here.
The Defending Ukraine Sovereignty Act
Mandatory and Additional Sanctions in the Event of Renewed Invasion: If an affirmative determination made by the president that Russia has engaged in a renewed invasion or escalation of hostilities, the Defending Ukraine Sovereignty Act triggers a cascade of mandatory sanctions on Russia’s political and military leadership, financial institutions, extractive industries, and Nord Stream 2, outlined below.
- Presidential Determination on Renewed Invasion or Escalation in Hostilities. Requires a Presidential determination as to whether the Russian government is engaged in or knowingly supporting a significant escalation in hostilities against Ukraine and whether the aim or effect of the escalation is to overthrow or dismantle the government of Ukraine, occupy Ukraine’s territory, or interfere with its territorial integrity.
- Mandatory Sanctions on Officials: Requires sanctions on list of officials including President Putin, the Prime Minister, Foreign Minister, Minister of Defense, Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces, and commanders of various branches of the armed forces, including the airborne and naval forces.
- Mandatory Sanctions on Financial Institutions: Requires the President to impose sanctions on three or more financial institutions from the following: Sberbank, VTB, Gazprombank, VEB.RF, The Russian Direct Investment Fund, Credit Bank of Moscow, Alfa Bank, Rosselkhozbank, FC Bank Otkritie, Promsvyazbank, Sovcombank, and Transkapitalbank.
- SWIFT: Authorizes sanctions on providers of specialized financial messaging services (e.g., SWIFT), and requires reporting on efforts to terminate services for sanctioned Russian financial institutions.
- Sovereign Debt: Prohibits transactions on primary and secondary Russian sovereign debt.
- Additional Sanctions: Requires the President to identify and sanction sectors and industries the President determines should be sanctioned in the interest of United States national security, including oil and gas extraction and production; coal extraction, mining, and production; and minerals extraction and processing.
- Nord Stream 2: Expresses the sense of Congress that Nord Stream 2 is a tool of malign influence of the Russian Federation, and that the United States should consider all available and appropriate measures to prevent the Nord Stream 2 pipeline from becoming operational, and directs the administration to review its prior waiver of Nord Stream 2 in light of the Kremlin’s military buildup and aggression towards Ukraine.
- Waivers and Exceptions: Provides the President with a national security waiver and provides the standard exceptions for authorized intelligence activities, compliance with international obligations, and law enforcement activities.
Expediting Security Assistance to Ukraine
- Bolstering Ukraine’s Defenses: Directs State and DOD to develop a strategy to bolster Ukraine’s defense capabilities and enhance the delivery of security assistance to Ukraine, including meeting Ukraine’s most critical needs and coordinating with allies in providing immediate assistance to Ukraine.
- Expediting Delivery of Defense Articles: Authorizes DOD and State to expedite procurement and delivery of defense articles and services for Ukraine, including through utilizing lease authority and the Special Defense Acquisition Fund.
- Supplemental Security Assistance: Authorizes $500 million in supplemental emergency security assistance to Ukraine in the event Russia re-invades for fiscal year 2022 and authorizes $3 million international military and education training for Ukraine. Also makes clear that the U.S. should continue to provide robust security assistance to Ukraine in the meantime.
- Report on Increased Security Assistance to Ukraine: Requires a report on the security assistance and provision of defense articles provided to Ukraine by the United States and allies since Russia’s military buildup.
Countering Kremlin Aggression against Ukraine and Eastern European Allies
- Combating Kremlin Disinformation: Directs State to use the Countering Russian Influence Fund to prioritize assisting Ukraine in combatting Russian disinformation.
- Expanded Support for RFE/RL: Directs Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty to improve its reach to audiences on the periphery of Russia, authorizes the exploration of opening new bureaus to reach new audiences in the Eurasia region and encourages RFE/RL to evaluate where Russian information is most deeply pervasive in the Eurasia region.
- Baltic Security and Economic Enhancement Initiative: Creates a new initiative to deepen security and economic ties with the Baltic states, including promoting the Baltic states’ resiliency against hybrid warfare, increasing interoperability with NATO forces, bolstering support for the Baltic region’s physical and energy security needs, and mitigating Russian and Chinese economic coercion against Baltic states.
- European Security: Expresses the sense of Congress that the United States should work closely with NATO allies and the OSCE in any discussions on European security, and requires the Secretary of State to submit a strategy to Congress on future formats to discuss European security, including an assessment of whether Russia has sufficiently de-escalated tensions to merit such discussions.
- Report on Russian Intelligence Services Destabilizing Ukraine: Requires a report on the role of Russian intelligence and security services in undermining Ukrainian independence and engaging in destabilizing activity.
- Public Disclosure of Putin’s Assets and Financial Practices: Requires an accounting and disclosure on the net worth, assets, and financial practices of Vladimir Putin and his inner circle, and their family members, including a public disclosure of the unclassified details.
Statement of Senate Intel Chair Mark R. Warner on Reports of Russian Mobilization near the Ukrainian Border
Nov 22 2021
WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, issued the following statement today:
“Vladimir Putin’s aggressive rhetoric and actions are a threat to the peace and stability of Europe and the world. From Russia’s continued occupation of eastern Ukraine and Crimea, to its weaponization of gas supplies to Europe, its ongoing malign campaign of misinformation, disinformation, and cybercrime, its support of Belarus’ dictatorship, its crackdown on dissent at home, and its latest armed buildup around Ukraine, Russia’s government is playing a dangerous game. The Biden administration must work with our allies to demonstrate to Mr. Putin that further actions to destabilize Europe’s security will bring about devastating consequences for Russia’s economy and its further isolation from the civilized world.”