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    New Congressional Legislation to Target Russia Over Ukraine

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    Today, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee intends to vote on newly written legislation, entitled the “Ukraine Freedom Support Act of 2014.” The legislation is a “witch’s brew” of actions against Russia and includes provisions relating to the broader CIS states and even Syria. In fact, the Act stops just short of declaring a war against Russia.

    MOSCOW, September 18 (RIA Novosti), Daniel Zubov - Today, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee intends to vote on newly written legislation, entitled the “Ukraine Freedom Support Act of 2014.” The legislation is a “witch’s brew” of actions against Russia and includes provisions relating to the broader CIS states and even Syria. In fact, the Act stops just short of declaring a war against Russia.

    The legislation specifically authorizes $350,000,000 USD for “Increased Military Assistance for the Government of Ukraine.” This includes “anti-tank and anti-armor weapons, crew weapons and ammunition, counter-artillery radars to identify and target artillery batteries, fire control, range finder, and optical and guidance and control equipment, tactical troop-operated surveillance drones, and secure command and communications equipment.”

    Ukraine, along with Moldova and Georgia, will also be awarded “major non-NATO ally“ (MNNA) status under this bill, which will allow for the expedited transfer of American weapons. This MNNA status is elsewhere defined to include to the possible transfer of depleted uranium munitions.

    Senators Menendez and Corker who initiated this Act have specifically timed it to be introduced in their committee “hours after” Poroshenko’s address, hoping the Chocolate King can whip Congress - many of whom are already willing and eager - into an anti-Russian frenzy leading to easy passage of this aggressive legislation.  The new initiative threatens the cease-fire in Ukraine and the peace talks being negotiated by more sensible parties in Russia and Europe.

    The legislation is a “witch’s brew” of actions against Russia and includes provisions relating to the broader CIS states and even Syria. Senator Menendez, the Democratic chair of the Committee, has joined to build on previous aggressive legislation introduced in May by the Republicans. This bipartisan bill will “impose broad sanctions on Russia’s defense, energy, and financial sectors, as well as increase military assistance for Ukraine.”  The legislation specifically targets “Russian Arctic offshore locations.” Section 10 provides for significant “expanded broadcasting in countries of the former Soviet Union.”

    Ignoring the neo-Nazi-led and NATO-backed coup that created this crisis in the first place, Senator Menendez, co-author of the legislation, says that “President Putin has upended the international order,” and despite peace talks and a cease-fire, insists that he is “left with no choice but to apply tough sanctions against Russia, coupled with military assistance to Ukraine.”

    The new legislation restates American policy in Ukraine declaring, “It is the policy of the United States to further assist the Government of Ukraine in restoring its sovereignty and territorial integrity to deter the Government of the Russian Federation from further destabilizing and invading Ukraine and other independent countries in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.”

    The first major new sanctions will fall on Rosoboronexport. Those sanctions include being cut off from assistance from the Export-Import Bank, prohibitions on exporting arms, dual-use goods, and property transactions. The Rosoboronexport sanctions also extend to any Russian entity manufacturing, selling, transferring, or brokering the sale of weapons to Syria or any other nation without the consent of the government - and the legislation specifically cites Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Poland, the Baltic States and Central Asian nations.

    In addition to more weapons coming from the west into Ukraine, Senators Menendez and Corker want to direct the Secretaries of State and Defense to “assist entities in the defense sector of Ukraine to reorient exports away from customers in the Russian Federation.”

    Another major target in this legislation is Gazprom. While their operations in arctic drilling were sanctioned on September 12, this legislation would extend sanctions only if Gazprom “withholds significant natural gas supplies from member countries of NATO, or further withholds significant natural gas supplies from countries such as Ukraine, Georgia, or Moldova” – there is no requirement that Ukraine, Georgia or Moldova pay for the gas they wish to receive.

    Threatening Gazprom to not cut off gas shipments is supplemented by requiring the Secretary of Energy and the Director of USAID to work with the Ukrainian Government to “improve corporate governance and unbundling of state-owned oil and gas sector firms,” “increase production from natural gas fields,” “license new oil and gas blocks transparently and competitively,” “modernize oil and gas upstream infrastructure,” and, lastly, after western companies can extract all the gas and oil from Ukraine at reasonable prices, a call to “improve energy efficiency.”

    Rational discourse and analysis in the United States are being drowned out by a carefully constructed propaganda campaign designed to silence voices opposed to war and support the continued eastward expansion of American military and NATO forces.

    Tags:
    Rosoboronexport, political crisis, US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Gazprom
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