Washington, D.C.— U.S. Congressman Andy Barr (R-KY), a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, released the following statement on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Putin’s recognition of two pro-Russian separatist regions in Ukraine, and the Biden Administration’s weakness on the international stage:

“Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to invade the sovereign territory of Ukraine and deny the existence of Ukraine as a legitimate state is a gross violation of international law, threatens the national security of the United States and our NATO allies and demands a bold, overwhelming and immediate response from the United States and our allies.  Putin’s brutal act of war represents a naked attempt to re-litigate the terms of the end of the Cold War.  

“Yet, these developments were not inevitable.  The Biden Administration’s weak and feckless foreign policy not only failed to deter this aggression, it invited this outcome. 

“A laundry list of missteps has led us to this point: the Administration’s disastrous retreat from Afghanistan which projected an unwillingness to defend our allies, a clean extension of the New START Treaty last February instead of negotiating a more comprehensive agreement, the Administration’s non-response to the Colonial Pipeline hack, the President’s unilateral waiver of Nord Stream 2 sanctions with no reciprocal commitments from Putin, Biden’s offer to withdraw missile defense from Poland, his failure to respond in any way to the eight-month Russian military mobilization on the Ukraine border and in the Black Sea, his efforts to lift sanctions on the Navalny list in the NDAA, his appeal to Putin to cooperate in negotiations with Iran to revive the flawed nuclear deal and Biden’s stubborn refusal to impose sanctions until after Russia’s further invasion of Ukraine all sent a dangerous signal to Vladimir Putin that this President would not challenge him.  

“In 2019, I authored, and Congress passed my legislation, the Protecting Europe’s Energy Security Act imposing sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline as part of the FY2020 NDAA. The Biden Administration, however, chose to pursue a soft-on-Russia stance and waived sanctions on Nord Stream 2 construction companies and cronies of Vladimir Putin.  Now that Russian troops are entering Ukraine, the only sanctions President Biden has so far imposed on Russia are sanctions that I supported before the invasion even took place under the Never Yielding Europe’s Territory (NYET) Act, to deter further Russian aggression.  Russia’s invasion would have automatically triggered far more crippling sanctions had the NYET Act become law.  President Biden’s policies of appeasement clearly failed.  War between Russia and Ukraine is the result.

“Now the United States and our NATO allies must reverse the policy mistakes of the last year. That’s why I am calling on this Administration to immediately impose blocking sanctions on all major Russian banks, the Russian oil and natural gas, and critical minerals industries, reimpose permanent sanctions to Nord Stream 2 to end the project and secondary sanctions on firms that attempt to do business with sanctioned entities in Russia.  I further call on the Administration to impose new export controls to deny Russia access to semiconductor and other key technologies, including items made outside the United States.  I also am calling for additional Foreign Military Financing (FMF) and arms sales for Ukraine, including for lethal air defense, anti-armor, and anti-ship capabilities, a new Ukraine Resistance Fund to help vetted Ukrainians resist Russian attempts to occupy or subjugate any Ukrainian territory, and substantial additional funding for large scale U.S. military exercises consistent with our NATO article 5 obligations in Poland, Romania, the Baltic and other areas on NATO’s eastern flank in Europe.  Finally, I call on this Administration to reverse its policies constraining the domestic production of energy, including reinstating energy transportation and infrastructure projects like the Keystone XL Pipeline, removing obstacles to exploring and producing energy on federal lands, in the Gulf of Mexico and on shore, and ending efforts by financial regulators to restrict access to capital for conventional energy projects.”

Congressman Barr cosponsored the NYET Act, which would have leveled major costs on Russia both before and after the Ukrainian invasion.  The NYET Act would have immediately reimposed Nord Stream 2 sanctions, as well as sanctions on Russian oligarchs and two major Russian banks, including the Promsvyabank which funds Russia’s military. 

After the invasion, additional sanctions would have been triggered under the NYET Act.  These include more severe sanctions on Russian banks and secondary sanctions on any bank that does business with them.  Finally, the NYET Act would remove a Presidential waiver for Nord Stream 2 sanctions following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.   

Additionally, Congressman Barr introduced the Russians Engaged in Threatening Ukraine Refuge Now (RETURN) Act last Friday.  Under current law, American citizens and permanent legal residents evacuated by the U.S. government from a hostile zone are required to reimburse the government for their evacuation.  The RETURN Act ensures that cost is not a barrier to exit for any American in harm’s way in Ukraine by waiving the reimbursement requirement.  The bill also waives the negative COVID-19 test requirement for Americans and permanent residents reentering the United States.

Deputy U.S. Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and other senior State Department officials are scheduled to testify in the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Ukraine next Wednesday, March 2.  Congressman Barr will be pressing Deputy Secretary Sherman on the Administration’s weakness on Russia that enabled the invasion of Ukraine.