U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, who is in line to lead the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee when Republicans take control of the chamber in January, wants America more involved in the conflict between Ukraine and Russia, according to TNReport. On the other hand, the post also notes that two Tennessee congressmen — John J. “Jimmy” Duncan and Jim Cooper — were among a handful of U.S. House members to vote against a U.S. House resolution condemning Russia’s annexation of Crimea.
His (Corker’s) approach of late has been to favor American military interventions and involvement in overseas conflicts. With respect to the regional disharmony in Eastern Europe, he supports the United States sending “lethal aid” to the Ukrainian military in their battle against forces loyal to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
And with the Senate’s unanimous passage of the Ukraine Freedom Support Act, the nation is one step closer to realizing Corker’s vision.
While the House has yet to vote on the Senate’s legislation — it was referred to committee Dec. 2 — last week a House resolution was passed “strongly condemning” the forcible annexation of the Crimean region by Russia, and calling for further sanctions on Russia and aid to Ukraine. Only 10 members of Congress voted against the resolution — five members of each party. Of Tennessee’s congressional delegation only Republican Rep. John Duncan, TN-02, and Democratic Rep. Jim Cooper, TN-05, voted against the measure.
The legislation, passed by the Senate on a voice vote Thursday, authorizes the offer of “lethal aid” to Ukraine, and includes sanctions on Roboronexport, a Russian state agency promoting defense and arms trade, and Gazprom, a major Russian state-controlled natural gas company.
The approved version of the Ukraine Freedom Support Act of 2014, sponsored by Corker and outgoing Foreign Relations Chairman Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., was softened from its original form, which included further sanctions on Russia’s energy industry and designations for Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova as”major non-NATO allies.”
…However, while Corker maintains the need for U.S. action to address Putin’s geopolitical overreach, he acknowledged the aid package won’t necessarily turn the tide for Ukraine.
“The lethal support to me is something that certainly is not going to mean that they would ever be able to stand up to Russia. It’s not going to happen. It raises the price, it shows a little bit of a deeper commitment,” Corker said while speaking about the Iranian nuclear program at a Foreign Policy Initiative conference sponsored by Raytheon, an American defense contractor and industrial corporation. The Foreign Policy Initiative is a non-profit think tank supporting U.S. global involvement, a strong military and the spread of democracy.
Corker added the best time for action would have been while the Russian president was preparing to invade Ukraine. But now, “we waited too long, the genie’s out of the bottle,” Corker said. “It’s very difficult to see how we don’t end up in a frozen conflict there.”