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Sen. Menendez: $1 Billion Aid Package Would Steady Ukrainian Economy

3-4-14

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is now working on legislation to authorize a $1 billion aid package for the Ukraine. Foreign Relations Committee Chair Sen. Robert Menendez told NJTV News Managing Editor Mike Schneider that the money would be able to steady the Ukraine economically.

“The money would go as a combination to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) but designated for the Ukraine. A $1 billion loan guarantee and it is part of an effort by the United States joining in with our European allies to send a very clear message, both to the Ukrainians that we stand ready to assist them economically, as well as to the IMF that we believe Ukraine is a priority in terms of their work and to find a way to provide the economic assistance and reforms that will be able to steady Ukraine economically,” said Menendez.

He said that steadying the Ukraine economically is important not only for Ukraine but also for Russian President Vladimir Putin to consider because further intervention by Russia into Ukraine and the economics of the country have to be part of the calculation that Putin needs to have as to whether or not the consequences of intervention are too great.

Menendez said that assistance to the Ukraine is only part of a package that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is drafting in a bipartisan fashion. He said there will be a series of sanction options available in the legislation from sanctioning high Russian officials that have been a part of violating international law to visa freezes to freezing accounts to looking at the possibility of ending military and dual use sales into Russia.

Menendez said that Russia’s actions will determine whether or not they find themselves isolated from the world.

“If one is to argue that their energy resources are the size of their economy is such that we should never act then we will have to accept the Russian aggression far beyond the Ukraine because Putin is an admirer of Peter the Great and the reason Peter was great is because he added land to the Russian empire. Putin wants to turn around the reversals of loss of the Soviet Union and its fear of influence as well of territory so this is a clear choice for the European Union and the west and we have too look at all of the options,” said Menendez.

Russia’s economy is far more integrated in the world today than it was under the former Soviet Union and it has real consequences, said Menendez. He said that Putin understands strength and Menendez said that he is not talking about Cold War strength, he is talking about economic strength. He said that is the type of strength that has to be used or else there will continue to be a march on different parts of Ukraine and “God knows where else.”

“I am concerned that if the West does not send a clear, unequivocal and strong message to Putin, he may go into Eastern Ukraine, which also has a split of Russian speaking citizens and those who are more motivated by joining Europe in the West. Working with the Ukrainian government, as well as with the European Union, NATO and the United States, Russia is going to dictate its course, but we can alter the course they may decide upon. Especially by Putin if he understands that there are real consequences,” Menendez said.