In Letter to Pompeo, Shaheen Urges Trump Administration to Respond to Escalating Kremlin Aggression Against U.S. Troops

September 04, 2020

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, wrote to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo yesterday to raise serious concerns with the Trump administration’s failure to unequivocally rebuke Russia for its escalatory aggression and harmful actions against U.S. forces around the globe.

Shaheen’s letter reads, in part, “The policies of this administration have empowered Russia to brazenly disregard international conventions and institutions that have long been upheld by American leadership. Instead, this administration has given the green light to Russian President Vladimir Putin to attack American soldiers, pay bounties for their deaths, meddle in democratic elections and disregard basic human rights in Russia and around the world.”

She continued, underscoring the appalling revelation that Russia provided the Taliban with payments to attack U.S. and coalition troops in Afghanistan, to which the President still refuses to condemn.

Shaheen went on to highlight recent incidents of Russian aggression against United States forces, writing, “Given the President’s lack of response to this unprecedented incident, it comes as no surprise that Russia has continued to endanger the lives of our troops in other theaters. On August 28, Russian pilots in Europe crossed within 100 feet of the nose of an American B-52 aircraft over the Black Sea and in international waters, causing turbulence and restricting the B-52’s ability to maneuver. This dangerous action comes on the heels of the President’s decision to remove over one third of U.S. troops from Germany—a perplexing decision that will further limit U.S. operations around the world and that the Kremlin has vocally and explicitly welcomed.  In the Middle East, after weeks of escalatory actions, Russian forces in Northeast Syria directly assaulted U.S. troops by colliding into U.S. vehicles on August 25. The encounter resulted in concussion-like symptoms in several U.S. military personnel. Again, instead of condemning these incidents and supporting U.S. forces in Syria, this administration has allowed Russia to pursue a strategy of encroachment and assaults without response.”

Senator Shaheen went on to cite a bipartisan letter she sent in 2018 to President Trump, warning that the U.S. withdrawal of forces in Syria would bolster Russia and diminish support for U.S. allies. In closing, she reiterated that a lack of a strong and cohesive U.S. response to Russia’s escalation against U.S. troops worldwide has both contributed to and reaffirmed Putin’s strategy to achieve his policy priorities, and the Trump administration has emboldened a more aggressive Russia, endangering our troops and citizens worldwide. Read the letter in full here.

During a Senate Foreign Relations hearing in July, Senator Shaheen questioned Secretary Pompeo on the administration’s alarming foreign policy decisions and actions, including the surprise announcement to withdraw U.S. troops from Germany and the failure to respond to the news of Russian bounties on U.S. forces. Shaheen has led efforts in Congress to hold Russia accountable for its aggression and election interference. She was the first legislator to call for hearings into their meddling in the 2016 elections. Because of her role as a negotiator on Russia sanctions legislation known as “CAATSA” and her successful efforts to ban Kaspersky Lab software from operating on U.S. systems, Shaheen was sanctioned by the Kremlin in 2017. Senator Shaheen has been warning of the Kremlin’s continued interference and she herself has been the target of a hacking attempt.