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Senate Foreign Relations Committee Approves Comprehensive Russian Sanctions Bill

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (R-NH), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Cory Gardner (R-CO) issued the following statements after the Senate Foreign Relations Committee overwhelmingly voted to approve the Defending American Security from Kremlin Aggression Act (DASKA) of 2019. Adopted in a vote of 17-5, the comprehensive, bipartisan bill significantly increases the political, diplomatic, and economic pressure on the Russian Federation in response to its malign activities around the world. 

The legislation, which now heads to the Senate floor for full consideration, is designed to bolster the United States’ ability to confront Russian aggression on several fronts—by strengthening our commitment to NATO, establishing an elite State Department cyber unit, and levying wide-ranging sanctions on Russian entities and individuals.

“This bipartisan legislation sends a clear message that Congress will not stay on the sidelines while Russia continues to interfere in our elections, threatens Ukraine’s sovereignty and sows discord in the transatlantic community,” said Senator Shaheen. “Our bill levies additional sanctions against Russia and reaffirms the Senate’s voice and role in support of NATO to ensure the United States stands with our allies against Russian aggression. I urge Leader McConnell to bring this bill to the floor immediately.”

Among its many provisions, DASKA creates a fusion center within the government to better address challenges posed by Russia.  The bill also gives U.S. prosecutors the ability to shut down botnets and other cyber tools that are used to attack election infrastructure.  And it increases transparency in the U.S. real estate market, making it more difficult for Russian oligarchs to buy high end property. 

Sanctions in Response to Kremlin interference in democratic institutions abroad 

  • Sanctions on Russian banks that support Russian efforts to undermine democratic institutions in other countries
  • Sanctions on investment in Russian LNG projects outside of Russia
  • Sanctions on Russia’s cyber sector
  • Sanctions on Russian sovereign debt
  • Sanctions on political figures, oligarchs, and family members and other persons that facilitate illicit and corrupt activities, directly or indirectly, on behalf of Vladimir Putin

Sanctions in Response to Kremlin aggression in Ukraine 

  • Sanctions on Russia’s shipbuilding sector in the event that Russia violates the freedom of navigation in the Kerch Strait or anywhere else in the world
  • Sanctions with respect to support for the development of crude oil resources in Russia
  • Sanctions on Russian stated owned energy projects outside of Russia

Other key provisions of the legislation

  • A strong statement of support for NATO and a requirement for two-thirds of the United States Senate to vote to leave NATO
  • Provisions expediting the transfer of excess defense articles to NATO countries to reduce some NATO countries’ dependence on Russian military equipment
  • The creation of a National Fusion Center to Respond to Hybrid Threats.  The aim of this center is to better prepare and respond to Russian disinformation and other emerging threats emanating from the Russian Federation
  • The establishment of an Office of Cyberspace and the Digital Economy within the Department of State.  This office will lead diplomatic efforts relating to international cybersecurity, Internet access, Internet freedom, the digital economy, cybercrime, deterrence and responses to cyber threats
  • Provisions aimed to pressure the Russian government to halt its obstruction of international efforts to investigate chemical weapons attacks as well as punish the Russian government for chemical weapons production and use
  • The International Cybercrime Prevention Act which would give prosecutors the ability to shut down botnets and other digital infrastructure that can be used for a wide range of illegal activity; create a new criminal violation for individuals who have knowingly targeted critical infrastructure, including dams, power plants, hospitals, and election infrastructure; and prohibit cybercriminals from selling access to botnets to carry out cyber-attacks
  • The Defending the Integrity of Voting Systems Act which would allow the Department of Justice to pursue federal charges for the hacking of any voting system that is used in a federal election
  • A requirement for the Secretary of State to submit a determination of whether the Russian Federation meets the criteria for designation as a state sponsor of terrorism
  • A requirement for domestic title insurance companies to report information on the beneficial owners of entities that purchase residential real estate in high-value transactions
  • Reinforcement for the State Department  Office of Sanctions Coordination
  • A report on the net worth and assets of Vladimir Putin
  • A report on the assassination of Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov
  • A reauthorization of the Countering Russia Influence Fund, which would provide assistance to European countries vulnerable to Kremlin interference