The Senate Foreign Relations Committee unanimously passed the Ukraine Freedom Support Act of 2014 today by a vote of 18 to 0.
Chairman Robert Menendez (D-NJ) introduced the act along with Ranking Member Bob Corker (R-TN). According to Menendez’s office, it imposes broad sanctions on Russia’s defense, energy, and financial sectors, as well as increasing military and non-military assistance for Ukraine.
“We stand as one today in Congress, united in our support for President Poroshenko and the Ukrainian people in their pursuit of peace and democracy in the face of Russian aggression,” Menendez said. “There is no more powerful demonstration of our solidarity with Ukraine than to approve this legislation that imposes tough sanctions against Russia for upending the international order, while providing military assistance to Ukraine during this watershed moment. Russia’s invasion requires a firm and resolute response, and passing the Ukraine Freedom Support Act of 2014 demonstrates that unwavering and necessary resolve to stand shoulder to shoulder with Ukraine.”
The legislation requires the president to apply sanctions against:
- Rosoboronexport and other Russian defense firms that contribute to instability in Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, and Syria;
- Companies worldwide that make significant investments in particular unconventional Russian crude oil energy projects;
- Gazprom, if the President determines that Gazprom is withholding significant natural gas supplies from member countries of NATO or further withholds such supplies from countries such as Ukraine, Georgia, or Moldova.
It also imposes restrictions on foreign financial institutions’ dealings with the United States banking system if it is determined the financial institution has engaged in significant sanctionable transactions related to Russia’s defense and energy sectors, or significant transactions on behalf of any Russian individual or entity that has been sanctioned in connection with the crisis in Ukraine.
This legislation authorizes the president to provide military assistance to Ukraine, to include:
- Providing defense articles, defense services, and training to the Government of Ukraine for the purpose of countering offensive weapons and reestablishing the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, including 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. It authorizes $350 million in fiscal year 2015 to carry out these activities.
It requires the administration to outline a plan for how the United States, other governments, and international organizations will help Ukraine in protecting and assisting persons internally displaced because of the fighting in Ukraine.
The bill requires the administration to work with Ukraine to develop a short-term emergency energy assistance plan that will help Ukraine address a potential fuel and electricity shortage in 2014-15, and authorizes $50 million for fiscal year 2015 in support of these activities. It also requires the administration to develop medium- and long-term plans to increase energy production and efficiency to improve energy security in Ukraine, and authorizes $50 million over three fiscal years for such activities.
Under this bill, the president would need to submit a strategy to Congress that outlines U.S. efforts to strengthen Ukrainian civil society, support independent media, reduce corruption, and increase election-monitoring capacity. This legislation also encourages the president to assist entities in the Ukrainian defense sector to reorient exports away from customers in Russia and to find appropriate alternative markets for their products.
Finally, the bill designates Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia as major non-NATO allies and authorizes $10 million for the next three fiscal years to counter Russian propaganda in the former Soviet Union countries and prioritizes Russian-language broadcasting into Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia.