Menendez Meets with NJ Ukrainians, Addresses Russia’s Growing Aggression, Interventionism

Menendez Meets with NJ Ukrainians, Addresses Russia’s Growing Aggression, Interventionism

Senator will question Secretary of State Nominee Rex Tillerson during confirmation hearings next week

NEWARK, NJ – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez, senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, met with leaders of New Jersey’s Ukrainian-American community today to discuss Russia’s escalating aggression and recent interference in the American election, and to solicit their input ahead of next week’s confirmation hearings for Secretary of State-designee Rex Tillerson. 

“Battling Russian aggression is nothing new for Ukrainians.  New Jersey is home to a rich and vibrant Ukrainian community and I felt it important to sit down and hear directly from them beforehand,” Sen. Menendez said.  “As we look at President-elect Trump’s alarming and dangerous rhetoric about Russia’s interference in our elections, in those of our European allies, and his outright denial of facts on the ground in Ukraine, I will be the first to reject this nonsense and hold the administration accountable.  We need a champion of the American people, not a friend of Putin directing our foreign policy.”


Sen. Menendez meets Friday with leaders of New Jersey’s Ukrainian-American community.

The senator met yesterday with Tillerson for over an hour in his Washington, D.C. office, discussing a range of foreign policy issues including Russia.  Confirmation hearings before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee have been scheduled for Jan. 11-12. 

Sen. Menendez (r) and Rex Tillerson met Thursday in the senator’s D.C. office.

Sen. Menendez is currently working with several Senate colleagues on a new legislative package in response to Russia’s escalating aggression and interventionism in the United States and abroad. 

“Congress must act to send a strong and unequivocal message to Vladimir Putin and the rest of the world,” said Sen. Menendez.  “If you attack the U.S., if you try to undermine our democracy and influence our elections, there will be real consequences.”

The legislation will include, but go beyond, the Stability and Democracy for Ukraine Act (STAND) for Ukraine Act, the senator introduced last Congress, which reinforces the United States’ commitment to stand in solidarity with the people of Ukraine by ensuring no federal agency is able to take any action or extend any assistance that recognizes Russian sovereignty over Crimea, its airspace, or its territorial waters and authorizes sanctions against individuals who are violating human rights, contributing to instability, and threatening the territorial integrity of Ukraine.

The senator has repeatedly advocated for substantive measures including sanctions to counter Russian aggression that directly threatens the United States and our allies.  As a result, Sen. Menendez has been personally sanctioned by Vladimir Putin and the Russian government.

“A badge of honor, if you ask me,” the senator said.

The senator met with the following Ukrainian-American community leaders: Tamara Olexy, Stefan Kaczaraj and Roksolana Lozynskyj of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America; Victor Rudd and Myroslaw Smorodsky of the Ukrainian American Bar Association; and Yuriy Symczyk of the Ukrainian National Association.