WASHINGTON – New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said Saturday that Western nations' “policies toward Russia require an urgent reexamination” and again called for the U.S. and European Union to “seriously consider” economic sanctions.
Delivering the keynote speech to EU and NATO leaders in Brussels at the German Marshall Fund, the Democrat said there is “no greater and potentially transformational challenge than Russia’s aggression in Ukraine” and that the West’s reaction will have “world-shaping consequences.”
The fund is a think tank that promotes transatlantic cooperation. Menendez opened with another reference to the Russian sanctions that have banned Menendez and other U.S. officials and lawmakers from traveling to the country.
“My name is Bob Menendez and I have just been sanctioned by Vladimir Putin. I suspect for standing up for the Ukrainian people, standing up for freedom, standing up for democracy. If that’s the case, then I say -- by all means, Mr. Putin, sanction me,” he said, according to excerpts released by his staff.
Menendez called Ukraine “only the most recent example” of “disruptive Russian behavior,” pointing also to its support of a brutal Syrian regime and dealings with Iran.
“Today, our concern is for Ukraine. Tomorrow, it could be for Georgia or Moldova,” he said in his speech. “What other country might become the target of Putin’s expansionist desire?”
Menendez also called for U.S.-E.U. cooperation to develop a framework to end the violent fighting in Syria.