Pelosi Trying to Rush Through Ukraine Defense Bill With ‘Crippling’ Anti-Russia Sanctions - Reports
00:36 GMT 26.01.2022 (Updated: 17:06 GMT 20.04.2023)
© Sputnik / Vladimir TrefilovState flags of Russia and Ukraine
© Sputnik / Vladimir Trefilov
As the US threatens to send even more troops to Eastern Europe, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is reportedly trying to rush passage of a massive bill that would give more military aid to Ukraine and introduce punishing sanctions on Russia if it were to invade.
According to a Tuesday report by The Intercept, Pelosi told Democratic colleagues on a caucus call she wanted to skip marking up the Defending Ukraine Sovereignty Act of 2022, when amendments are added and debated, and bring the bill directly to the House floor. According to congressional sources who spoke with the outlet, a vote could happen as early as next week.
“This is how the space for nonmilitary options gets slowly closed off in Washington, without any real debate,” one Democratic aide told the Intercept.
The bill was introduced earlier this month by Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), with a House companion bill following last week. The bill would impose “crippling” sanctions on Russia if it were to invade Ukraine, as many US leaders fear, as well as substantially increase military support for Ukraine and funding for US state-funding media outlets targeting Eastern Europe, such as Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.
On Monday, Punchbowl News reported that Pelosi had requested an all-member briefing on the situation in Ukraine, the US having ordered its personnel out of the US embassy in Kiev the day prior. European Union diplomats have not followed suit, though.
The Pentagon said on Monday that 8,500 US troops have been placed on high alert to be ready to deploy to Europe within five days if necessary, but US President Joe Biden clarified on Tuesday that the US has no intention of sending more troops to Ukraine, which is not a part of the NATO alliance.
The US has claimed that the large number of Russian troops near its western border with Ukraine is a prelude to invasion, but Moscow says it is performing military drills in the region and has no plans to intervene in Ukrainian affairs. Several meetings between US and Russian leaders, including Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin, have failed to defuse the tensions, with Russia saying it needs security guarantees about the further expansion of NATO and the potential stationing of offensive forces in Ukraine, and the NATO alliance saying Russia’s troop deployments are provocative and the cause of the crisis.
Ironically, Kiev has urged calm, with Ukrainian National Security Adviser Oleksiy Danilov telling the BBC on Monday that the panic was largely a creation of the West.
“The buildup of Russian troops isn’t as rapid as some claim,” he said. “Do they have maneuvers there - yes, but they do them all the time. This is their territory, they have the right to move left and right there. Is it unpleasant for us? Yes, it's unpleasant, but it's not news to us. If this is news to someone in the West, I apologize.”
Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said much the same, urging on Tuesday that Western media had cooked up fears about a Russian invasion because “panic and fear is the most clickable.”
“We are assessing the situation at a distance of 200 km from the border. They are constantly pulling up and then withdrawing troops, conducting exercises. I can say with absolute certainty that as of today, the Russian armed forces have not created a strike group that could carry out an invasion,” Reznikov said. “There are no grounds to think that an invasion will happen tomorrow from a military point of view.”