Menendez: Need to expel Kremlin from international community is in ‘focus’

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chair Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) said in a statement late Wednesday night that Russia’s military operation in Ukraine brings the “need to expel the current” leadership in Moscow “into sharp focus.”

The statement was issued soon after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a military operation in Ukraine, following weeks of speculation about a potential invasion.

“This unprovoked attack has brought into sharp focus the need to expel the current Kremlin leadership from the international community,” Menendez said. “Today must mark a historical shift in how the world views and deals with the despot in Moscow.”

Putin, in a televised address Thursday morning Moscow time, said the military operation was meant to protect Ukraine from what he called a “regime.” Russia incrementally amassed up to 190,000 troops at the Ukrainian border in recent weeks, stoking fear in the U.S. and among allies of a large-scale offensive by Russia into the former Soviet state. 

Tensions heightened Monday when Putin recognized two breakaway territories in eastern Ukraine as independent.

President Biden, in a statement late Wednesday night, called Putin’s latest move an “unprovoked and unjustified attack.” A White House official told reporters in a separate statement that Biden will announce further consequences against Russia on behalf of the U.S. and its allies Thursday.

Biden earlier this month told Putin that Russia would face “swift and severe costs” if it invaded Ukraine.

Menendez on Wednesday said history will prove that Putin’s “decision to sacrifice the lives of countless Ukrainians and Russians was made out of fear — fear of allowing a neighboring independent, sovereign nation to pursue democracy and freedom.”

He said the U.S. and its allies “must refuse to stand by and watch innocent Ukrainian men, women, and children suffer.”

“As chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, I am committed to ensuring that the United States upholds our responsibility to exact maximum costs on Putin, the Russian economy, and those who enabled and facilitated this trampling of Ukraine’s sovereignty,” he added.

Menendez said his prayers are with Ukrainians “who refuse to let a tyrant use military might to impose his will on Ukraine.”

Tags Bob Menendez Joe Biden Russia-Ukraine conflict Vladimir Putin

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