Congress Prepares To Hit Russia With New Sanctions In Possible Provocation For War

( Congress is trying to act quickly to draw up legislation that would put serious sanctions on Russia as tensions continue to escalate between Moscow and neighboring Ukraine.

Even though both chambers aren’t in Washington, D.C., this week, negotiations are still proceeding seriously behind the scenes. Lawmakers are very much concerned about Russia invading Ukraine, as efforts for diplomacy have thus far failed miserably.

Many military experts believe that Congress has to act very quickly and have a plan in place for the chambers to debate when they return to Washington, as they don’t think there’s much time left to deter Russian President Vladimir Putin from invading.

One aide for the Senate recently told media outlet The Hill:

“There is strong bipartisan consensus in quickly moving forward legislation.”

Two separate proposals for sanctions have been put forth thus far, and negotiators are working to iron out any substantial differences between the two. This includes the timing of financial sanctions on Russia.

The sanctions in the Senate are going to be introduced by Democrat Bob Menendez, the chair of the Foreign Relations Committee. Those sanctions would be imposed if Russia were to invade Ukraine.

The targets would be financial institutions and officials in Russia, should President Joe Biden determine that Russia either invaded Ukraine or had a significant “escalation of hostilities” toward them.

The sanctions would also authorize sanctions be placed on various Russia companies that offer secure messaging systems. The critical one here is called SWIFT, which is how banks communicate with each other throughout the world.

Nearly all Democrats in the Senate have signaled they are behind Menendez’s proposal, but the key for the liberals would be getting at least 10 members of the GOP to support the bill. If not, they’ll have to look for a compromise that would be more bipartisan.

Talks are still ongoing between Menendez and a bipartisan group of senators who are trying to work through any disagreements so they can come to a consensus on a bill that would be amenable to both sides of the aisle.

Many Republicans believe that the legislation should impose some immediate authority to issue sanctions. The GOP believes Putin should face some immediate punishment for even building up troops along the Ukrainian border.

Idaho Senator James Risch, the top member of the GOP on the Foreign Relations Committee, recently commented:

“Now is the time to put sanctions on. Not after the fact. If you want to deter somebody, do it now … There is plenty, plenty [of] reasons right now to put sanctions on.”

Republicans are particularly interested in putting sanctions and restrictions in place over the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, and any companies involved with it. They believe the project, which would carry gas from Germany to Russia, needs to stop now.

The GOP also wants Russia to be designated a state sponsor of terrorism if it decides to invade Ukraine.

It’s possible that a bipartisan Senate bill could, then, include both some immediate sanctions as well as broader sanctions that could be imposed at a later date.