Shaheen Questions Top Biden Official on U.S. Policy Toward Russia

December 07, 2021

Shaheen Questions Top Biden Official on U.S. Policy Toward Russia

Senator Shaheen during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing this afternoon.

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) – Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s (SFRC) Europe and Regional Security Cooperation Subcommittee – questioned Victoria Nuland, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, on U.S. policy toward Russia during a SFRC hearing earlier today. Shaheen has long led efforts in the Senate to hold Russia accountable for its malign activity against the U.S. and our allies. 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

Last week, Shaheen specifically underscored the danger in Senate Republicans blocking Mark Gitenstein’s nomination to serve as U.S. ambassador to the European Union (EU) amid Russia’s increasing aggression against Ukraine and U.S. partners in the region. During the committee hearing today, Shaheen again focused on the need for the United States to deploy diplomats to key regions around the world, particularly amid Russia’s escalating belligerence against Ukraine. She also highlighted the importance of providing military assistance to Ukraine, exploring other means to assist our Ukrainian partners, and she addressed Putin’s influence on Belarusian dictator, Alyaksandr Lukashenka.   

After her questioning, Shaheen issued the following statement:

“The United States faces a myriad of security challenges due to Putin’s increasing aggression and agitation throughout the region that is threatening our Ukrainian partners, inciting turmoil and violence on Belarus’ border and attempting to sow discord within the transatlantic community. The Kremlin’s escalations reaffirm how important it is for the U.S. to have diplomats in the region. I call on the few Republicans obstructing the Senate from doing its job to end their partisan games that are shackling our diplomatic corps and compromising our ability to respond,” said Shaheen. “I appreciated Undersecretary Nuland’s shared concern for filling these positions, and for the opportunity to address U.S. policy with Russia directly with her to ascertain how Congress can work with the administration to bolster the United States’ response. I’m glad President Biden is considering additional sanctions against Putin, and I was also encouraged by questions from my fellow committee members today, which underscore the bipartisan urgency in Congress to hold Putin to task. Putin needs to know that the United States, across party lines, is unified in our repudiation of his actions and are prepared to respond. I’m glad to share that in the final compromise text for the fiscal year 2022 National Defense Authorization Act, Senator Portman and I successfully pushed to increase military assistance for Ukraine so it can defend itself against threats from Russia. We must make it clear to the Kremlin that the U.S. will put its money where its mouth is and help Ukraine defend its territorial integrity. The United States must show Putin, and any dictator who threatens our national security or our global stability, that they will pay a hefty price.”  

Watch Shaheen’s questioning in full here.

Shaheen is also a member of the Senate Ukraine Caucus. Last month, Shaheen led a bipartisan delegation to the Halifax International Security Forum, where she helped reaffirm the U.S. bipartisan commitment to the transatlantic alliance and European partners, including Ukraine. During the conference, Shaheen participated in a bilateral meeting with Ukrainian officials. In June, Shaheen led a bipartisan group of lawmakers to Eastern Europe, including Ukraine, to underscore the United States’ commitment to Ukraine as it works to achieve its pro-democratic aspirations. Shaheen participated in a closed-session briefing on Ukraine last night and participated in another closed-session briefing with the Senate Armed Services Committee on Ukraine today.