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Shaheen & Bipartisan Group Introduce Legislation to Counter Russian Aggression Toward Ukraine

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), a senior member of the Senate Armed Services and Foreign Relations committees, today introduced the Ukraine Democracy Defense Lend-Lease Act with Senators John Cornyn (R-TX), Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Roger Wicker (R-MS). This legislation would provide the President with the enhanced authority to more swiftly enter into lend-lease agreements directly with Ukraine and expedite the delivery of military equipment necessary to protect vulnerable civilian populations from a Russian military invasion.

“On the heels of a bipartisan delegation I helped lead to Ukraine, it’s clear the U.S. must take decisive and urgent action to support our Ukrainian partners and deter a Russian incursion. This legislation shows there is bipartisan unity in Congress to provide President Biden with the tools needed to swiftly deliver critical defense capabilities to Ukraine and stand firm against the Kremlin,” said Sen. Shaheen. “This bill ensures bureaucratic hurdles won’t hinder the administration from acting quickly to provide Ukraine with the tools needed to protect civilians should Putin decide to invade. The Kremlin will pay a hefty price if they escalate this crisis, and the U.S. will put its money where its mouth is to help Ukraine defend itself. There is too much at stake; Congress must act swiftly, and most critically – work together – to get legislation across the finish line.”

Senator Shaheen has long led efforts in the Senate to hold Russia accountable for its malign activity against the U.S. and our allies. This week, Senator Shaheen and Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) led a bipartisan delegation to Ukraine to reaffirm the U.S.’ commitment to Ukraine as it faces an increasingly belligerent Russia. Yesterday, Senator Shaheen participated in video call with President Biden to debrief on the delegation and discuss next steps. On Christmas Eve, Senators Shaheen participated in a video conference call with President Zelenskyy to discuss the security situation in the country. Last week, Shaheen helped introduce the Defending Ukraine Sovereignty Act of 2022, which would impose crippling sanctions on the Russian banking sector and senior military and government officials if President Putin escalates hostile action in or against Ukraine. Through her leadership on the Senate Appropriations Committee, Shaheen and Portman announced that through the FY22 NDAA bill, the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative has been extended through 2022 with funding increased from $250 million to $300 million per year, with at least $75 million specifically for lethal assistance, as part of the FY 2022 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Shaheen also authored an op-ed in the Washington Post with Senator Portman in December, which can be read here. A member of the Ukraine Caucus, Shaheen previously led a bipartisan delegation to Eastern Europe, which included a stop in Ukraine, in June 2021.

As part of the Arms Export Control Act authority, the President can currently lend and lease defense articles to U.S. partners and allies when it is in the United States’ national security interest. However, bureaucratic barriers and other limitations make these authorities impractical for the current crisis facing Ukraine. 

This enhanced lend-lease authority would be specific to Ukraine to help remove obstacles to lending arms to Ukraine. It would not create a new program but would streamline the President’s current authority to lend the defense articles necessary to defend civilian populations in Ukraine. In addition, this legislation would:

  • Require the President to certify to the appropriate congressional committee that any military equipment provided under this authority is necessary to protect vulnerable civilian populations;
  • Require the President or his designee to establish expedited delivery procedures for any military equipment loaned or leased to Ukraine to ensure timely delivery to Ukraine; and
  • Categorize any cyberattack on major critical infrastructure originating from within Russia against Ukraine to be treated as an armed attack by Russia
  • Remain in effect until Russia restores its troops’ presence on the Ukraine border to pre-March 2021 levels.