On December 19th, a resolution was introduced in the US Senate called for a international freedom of navigation military operation in the Kerch Strait and the Sea of Azov, in addition to urging the cancellation of Nord Stream 2 and for EU to refuse access of Russian vessels to their ports.
Approximately 40 Senators introduced the bill, spearheaded by Senators Ron Johnson (R) and Dick Durbin (D).
“The United States and our allies need to rapidly counter Russia’s military aggression in the Kerch Strait with strong and resolute action,” Johnson said in a statement.
Initially, on December the 19th, the Hill reported that in the bill Senators are “calling for the pipeline’s cancellation due to its threat to European energy security, and calling on the Russian Federation to guarantee freedom of navigation in the Kerch Strait.”
However, in the final draft of the resolution it rather calls for “a prompt multinational freedom of navigation operation in the Black Sea” in addition to the cancellation of the Nord Stream 2.
It is based upon the annexation of Crimea and events following it, including a December 12th resolution by the EU that passed with overwhelming support, condemning both the Russian aggression in the Kerch Strait and the construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.
It also noted a resolution passed by the US House of Representatives on December 11th, calling on the EU to reject the Nord Stream 2 pipeline and urging the President to use all available means to promote energy policies in Europe that reduce European reliance on Russian energy exports.
On the basis of this, the resolution makes 10 requests to the President and NATO:
- Calls on the POTUS to “promptly lead a robust multi-national freedom of navigation operation in the Black Sea to help demonstrate support for internationally recognized border, bilateral agreements and safe passage through the Kerch Strait and Sea of Azov and to push back against excessive Russian Federation claims of sovereignty”;
- Calls on NATO to “enhance allied maritime presence and capabilities, including maritime domain awareness and coastal defense in the Black Sea in order to support Freedom of Navigation Operations and allied interests”;
- Urges the POTUS to “use the authority provided under section 1234 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018 to enhance the capability of the Ukrainian military”;
- Urges the POTUS to “through the Departments of State and Defense to provide additional security assistance to Ukraine, especially to strengthen Ukraine’s maritime capabilities, in order to improve deterrence and defense against further Russian aggression”;
- Reiterates the POTUS “is required by statute to impose mandatory sanctions on the Russian Federation under CAATSA”;
- Emphasized that any and all sanctions on Russia are a result of “of the actions of the Russian Federation and will continue to increase until there is an appropriate change in Russian behavior”;
- Calls the US partners and allies in the EU to “deny Russian Vessels access to their ports to resupply and refuel”;
- Notes the Resolution by the Congress on December 11th calling for the cancellation of the Nord Stream 2;
- Applauds and concurs the EU resolution of December 12th condemning the Russian aggression in the Kerch Strait and the Nord Stream 2;
- Finally, urges the POTUS to “continue working with Congress and our allies to ensure the appropriate policies to deter the Russian Federation from further aggression”;
The bill has not been voted in the US Senate as of December 21st, given it passes, it must also pass a vote in the US Congress and then be accepted by the US President.
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