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Shaheen, Romney Unveil New Bipartisan Bill to Establish U.S. Strategy Toward Black Sea Region

**As Chair of the Europe and Regional Security Cooperation Subcommittee of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Shaheen has long pushed for the prioritization of the region amid Putin’s war in Ukraine**

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen, chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Europe and Regional Security Cooperation, introduced new bipartisan legislation with U.S. Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) that directs the administration to develop a strategy toward the Black Sea region, which has increasingly become a critical inflection point for European and global security amid Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked war in Ukraine. The bipartisan legislation follows Shaheen’s subcommittee hearing on Black Sea Security in October 2021, as well as her bipartisan delegation to the NATO Summit in Madrid, and Finland and Sweden last month. Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC), Chris Coons (D-DE), Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Ben Cardin (D-MD) are all original cosponsors of the bill. 

“As Putin continues his war in Ukraine, the United States must be prepared to address the challenges he’s created in the immediate and long term for European and U.S. security. That is precisely what our legislation seeks to do by looking at a critical geopolitical region: the Black Sea,” said Senator Shaheen, chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Europe and Regional Security Cooperation. “Putin has already demonstrated the high strategic value he places upon the Black Sea region by invading Georgia in 2008, followed by his annexation of Crimea in 2014 and further invasion of Ukraine this year. Control over access to the Black Sea is fundamental to his delusional dream of building a Russian empire and the United States cannot allow that to happen. We are already seeing the fallout from Putin’s action toward that end by suffocating key ports in Ukraine that have spurred a global food crisis. His belligerence toward Ukraine today is reaping global consequences, which is why strategic action is crucial to thwart those efforts. Our bipartisan legislation urges the Biden administration to make U.S. policy in the region a priority by developing an interagency report, followed by a strategy, to enhance economic ties, strengthen democratic institutions and bolster military assistance and coordination between the U.S., NATO and Black Sea partners, among other provisions. As a fellow member of the Europe subcommittee, I appreciate Senator Romney’s partnership on this legislation and look forward to engaging lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to join us in this effort.”  

“The Black Sea has become increasingly critical as Vladimir Putin continues to wage his unprovoked war in Ukraine, and it has become clear that the United States must have both a strategy and presence in the region. Our legislation aims to accomplish this by requiring the Biden Administration to develop a strategy to strengthen coordination between the U.S., NATO, and partners in the Black Sea in an effort to increase security, support economic prosperity, and promote democracy,” said Senator Romney. “I am proud to work with my fellow colleague on the Foreign Relations Europe subcommittee on this legislation and urge our colleagues to join us in this important effort.” 

Specifically, the Shaheen-Romney legislation would do the following:  

  • Call for a more robust foreign policy toward the Black Sea region, including increased advocacy between U.S., NATO and EU and bolstering economic ties between the U.S. and the Black Sea region; 
  • Require an interagency report from the administration to outline existing efforts to support democracy, security and economic prosperity in the Black Sea region, and ask for an outline of policy options for increased engagement; 
  • 360 days following passage of legislation, require an interagency strategy to increase military assistance and coordination with NATO and the EU, deepen economic ties, strengthen democracy and economic security and enhance security assistance with Black Sea countries. 

Text of the legislation is available here

Shaheen, also a member of the Senate Ukraine Caucus, leads action in the U.S. Senate in support of Ukraine in response to Vladimir Putin’s belligerence, which also threatens the stability and security of Eastern Europe and NATO allies. Recently, legislation co-led by Shaheen to speed up military assistance to Ukraine and Eastern European nations was signed into law. In February, Shaheen led a successful bipartisan effort with Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) to pass a resolution that conveys a renewed and overwhelmingly bipartisan message from the U.S. Senate in fierce support of Ukraine. Earlier this year, Shaheen and Portman led a bipartisan delegation to Ukraine, where they met with President Zelenskyy and members of his administration. Before the Shaheen-Portman congressional delegation visit to Ukraine in January, Shaheen led a bipartisan group of lawmakers to Eastern Europe, including Ukraine, last June. As co-chair of the Senate NATO Observer Group, which she re-started with Senator Tillis in 2018, Shaheen has led bipartisan efforts in the Senate in support of the transatlantic Alliance amid Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and as Finland and Sweden seek accession into NATO.