Graham, Menendez team up for bipartisan anti-Russia bill

Graham, Menendez team up for bipartisan anti-Russia bill
Senators Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) and Bob Menendez (D-New Jersey) are working on a draft law that would impose sanctions on Russian sovereign debt and demand Senate approval for US quitting NATO, among other things.

The two senators announced on Tuesday they will be introducing the new sanctions law “to ensure the maximum impact on the Kremlin’s campaign against our democracy and the rules-based international order.”

The US must make it clear it will “not waver in our rejection of [Russian President Vladimir Putin’s] effort to erode western democracy as a strategic imperative for Russia’s future,” Graham and Menendez said.

Although the bill is still being drafted, Graham and Menendez said it would include increased sanctions on Russian energy and financial sectors, “oligarchs and parastatal entities” and on sovereign debt as well as sanctions against “cyber actors in Russia.”

It will also establish a National Center to Respond to Russian Threats and a sanctions coordinator office at the State Department, demand reports on implementing the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), and authorize financial aid to “bolster democratic institutions across Europe to defend against Russian interference.”

Last, but not least, the bill would impose a Senate approval requirement for US withdrawal from NATO.

Graham is an outspoken foreign policy hawk and long-time wingman of the Russia-obsessed Senator John McCain (R-Arizona). Last week, he called for the World Cup soccer ball, presented as a gift to President Donald Trump by his Russian counterpart at the summit in Helsinki, Finland to be examined for surveillance devices.

As the ranking member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Menendez is a powerful voice among the Democrats, who continue blaming Russia for the outcome of the 2016 US presidential election.

It is unclear how much support the Graham-Menendez bill will get in the Senate. However, CAATSA was approved 98-2 last year.

Just last week, the Senate voted 98-0 on a nonbinding resolution expressing the sense that the “United States should refuse to make available any current or former diplomat, civil servant, political appointee, law enforcement official or member of the Armed Forces of the United States for questioning by the government or Vladimir Putin," in response to false reports that former US ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul would be “handed over” to Moscow.

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