Bipartisan Group Of Foreign Relations Members Condemn Russian Aggression

Outline Russia’s provocative behavior and violations to international agreements in bipartisan resolution

June 21, 2016

WASHINGTON, D.C.– U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), David Perdue (R-GA), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Ron Johnson (R-WI), Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Jim Risch (R-ID), all members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, have introduced a bipartisan resolution that calls on Russia to cease provocative military maneuvers that endanger U.S. forces and calls on the U.S., its European allies, and the international community to continue to apply pressure on Moscow.

“The United States and the international community must stand strong against Russian aggression and the Kremlin’s ongoing efforts to undermine the sovereignty of its neighbors,” said Senator Shaheen. “Moscow’s provocative actions now endanger U.S. and allied service members, and this is unacceptable.  We strongly condemn Russia’s reckless actions, and we must not tolerate interference with the right of the United States and our allies to operate freely in international airspace and waters.”

“Under President Vladimir Putin, Russia has become increasingly assertive and aggressive militarily,” said Senator Perdue. “We’ve recently seen Russian military personnel taunting U.S. military units with provocative military maneuvers. Not only are these actions irresponsible, but they also endanger the lives of American and Russian soldiers alike and fly in the face of decades-long agreements between our two nations. Further, Russia continues to build up its military, cyber capabilities, and poses direct challenges to stated U.S. interests. Today, we come together to condemn Russia’s provocative and antagonistic behavior.”

“From invading Ukraine to provocative and reckless behavior directed at U.S. warships, Vladimir Putin’s Russia continues to incite instability in the global community and violate international law,” said Senator Gardner. “On a recent trip to Europe to discuss NATO readiness to counter the Russian threat, I met with European leaders, U.S. diplomats, and military personnel, and we all agreed on the need for strong U.S. leadership and enhanced presence in the face of Russia’s increasingly belligerent actions. As U.S. and NATO military leaders told me during my visit: “virtual presence is actual absence.” The United States cannot lead from behind, and we must reassure our allies that the United States stands firmly behind its NATO commitment, including Article 5 of the NATO Charter regarding collective defense. The Obama Administration must hold Russia accountable and lead the effort to address Russia’s bad behavior.”

“I’m alarmed by Russia’s dangerous maneuvers directed at the U.S. military in international waters and airspace,” said Senator Johnson. “Russian President Vladimir Putin continues to demonstrate that he’s not looking for off-ramps that would de-escalate tensions with the West. He’s only looking for on-ramps to destabilize Europe and threaten the United States and our allies. We must make it clear that the U.S. stands firmly with our allies in the face of persistent Russian aggression.”

“Russian President Vladimir Putin is once again flexing his muscles, clearly challenging the post-Cold War order, demanding a clear and consequential response to prevent him from continuing to threaten international order and stability,” said Senator Menendez. “As an author of effective sanctions in response to past Russian aggression, I join my colleagues in sending President Putin our unequivocal response: Continue Russian aggression, with violence against peaceful opposition, election-rigging, human rights abuses and corruption, international adventurism in Georgia, Ukraine, Syria, Iraq and elsewhere, and risk more isolation, more sanctions, and greater consequences. If President Putin continues to flex his muscles assuming there will be no consequences, he is mistaken.”

Russia has sought to reassert its dominance on the world stage by engaging in increasingly aggressive military behavior. These recent provocative military maneuvers, many of which have been directed specifically at the U.S., violate the 1972 agreement on Prevention of Incidents On and Over the High Seas. Meanwhile, Russia has begun significantly building up their military presence in Eastern Europe, which has prompted NATO to respond by positioning more than 4,000 additional troops to the region, including at least 1,000 U.S. service members. Further, the State Department has found that Russia is in continued violation of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. Russia has pushed the envelope for too long and the time has come for the U.S. express a formal condemnation of these actions as unsafe, unprofessional, unwarranted, and unacceptable.

Specifically, the Senators’ resolution would:

  • Condemn recent dangerous and unprofessional Russian intercepts of U.S.-flagged aircraft and vessels;
  • Call on Russia to cease its provocative military maneuvers that endanger American and allied forces;
  • Call on the U.S., European allies, and the international community to continue to apply pressure on the government of Russia to stop its provocative behavior;
  • Reaffirm the right of the U.S. to operate military aircraft and vessels in international airspace and waters.