GOP lawmakers offer new Russia bill

Russian troops amassed at Ukraine's border are part of “an invasion-ready force” threatening Ukraine, Rep. Mike Turner (R-Ohio) saidTuesday.

Turner said NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe Gen. Philip Breedlove has identified almost 80,000 Russian troops that include armored ground vehicles, battle tanks, artillery systems, tactical rotary and fixed wing aircraft, and a “robust logistical support element” that included field hospitals. 

"Russia is displaying a new level of force and ambition in escalating efforts to destabilize the region,” said Turner, who is proposing new legislation to bolster Ukraine’s government and pressure Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Turner offered the bill on Tuesday with House Armed Services Committee (HASC) chairman Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) and Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.), chairman of the HASC subcommittee on strategic forces. 

“We believe that the administration has been somewhat uncertain in what actions to take in answering Putin's aggression and the crisis that is unfolding in the Ukraine,” Turner said at a press conference announcing the bill.  

“Because of that uncertainty, we felt it was necessary on a legislative basis to formulate a to-do list for the administration,” he said.  

That to-do list includes providing Ukrainian forces with military advice and technical assistance.

The legislation stopped short of calling on more material military aid for Ukraine, although Turner said the bill left that open for discussion. 

Earlier in the day, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. Carl LevinCarl LevinPresident Trump, listen to candidate Trump and keep Volcker Rule Republicans can learn from John McCain’s heroism Trump and GOP wise to keep tax reform and infrastructure separate MORE said the U.S. would not want to give Ukraine anything that Russia could use as a pretext to invade Russia. 

“We want to strengthen them in any way that we can in ways that would not allow Russia to use the rhetoric or the action for moving in,” he said. 

Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainSenate's defense authorization would set cyber doctrine Senate Dems hold floor talk-a-thon against latest ObamaCare repeal bill Overnight Defense: Senate passes 0B defense bill | 3,000 US troops heading to Afghanistan | Two more Navy officials fired over ship collisions MORE (R-Ariz), however, called for sending lethal aid to Ukrainian forces. 

“We should be giving them weapons. We should be giving them defensive weapons to defend themselves. It's disgraceful. It's shameful. These people are asking for weapons to defend themselves and we don't do that,” he said. 

“With respect to concerns about provoking Russia, I don't how we would notice the difference,” said Turner. 

The new legislation would also cease the U.S.-Russia military relationship until the U.S. defense secretary certifies the Russian military is no longer illegally occupying Crimea, no longer violating the Intermediate-range Nuclear Force Treaty, and is in compliance with the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty. 

It would also prohibit the cooperation between the National Nuclear Security Administration and the Russian Federation until the U.S. energy secretary certifies the same. 

Further, it would also require the U.S. to issue a report on Russia's military and security developments with no termination date. 

The legislation would also condemn Russia for undermining regional stability and intimidating Ukraine, and reaffirm the U.S. commitment to the Budapest Memorandum and its commitment to defend NATO members. 

The bill also calls for NATO enlargement, and extending membership to Montenegro, Georgia and Macedonia. 

Turner said he expected significant support from Democrats for the legislation, which is expected to be formally introduced Wednesday.