Newark, NJ - U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, wrote President Obama today about the deteriorating situation in Ukraine.

In his letter to the President, Chairman Menendez wrote: "I strongly encourage the Administration to exercise authorities under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and other relevant statutes to more aggressively implement Executive Order 13622, which authorized the Secretary of the Treasury to impose sanctions against persons operating in sectors of the Russian Federation economy, such as financial services, energy, metals and mining, engineering, and defense and related materiel."

The letter appears below:

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President:

I am writing to express my concern about the ongoing situation in Ukraine and to ask that you seriously consider additional sanctions as soon as possible to deter the Russian Federation from pursuing further hostile and destabilizing actions against Ukraine.

Last week, I held a hearing of the Foreign Relations Committee on Ukraine in which five experts representing the full spectrum of American political opinion all advocated additional sanctions on Russia. It is clear that Vladimir Putin is continuing to incite, support, and recruit bands of irregular soldiers within Ukraine who continue to attack Ukrainian security forces. Moreover, Russia's introduction of tanks across the Ukrainian border represents a significant escalation of the conflict that cannot be ignored by the international community.

In my view, unless Putin is confronted by stronger disincentives, he will not cease support for the insurgents who are occupying more and more Ukrainian territory along the Russian border. He will continue to seek to ensure that the Ukrainian government can't stabilize the situation or address the pressing needs of the Ukrainian public.

I strongly encourage the Administration to exercise authorities under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and other relevant statutes to more aggressively implement Executive Order 13622, which authorized the Secretary of the Treasury to impose sanctions against persons operating in sectors of the Russian Federation economy, such as financial services, energy, metals and mining, engineering, and defense and related materiel. If done in a targeted and orderly way, including with grace periods to allow firms time to wrap up their affairs, we could see sincere moves by Russia to end the conflict they've generated without causing major disruption to U.S. business interests.

We fully appreciate the importance of acting in concert with key European allies to ensure that sanctions have their intended effect, and I encourage you to continue robust efforts to ensure their actions are, to the greatest possible extent, consistent with ours. At the same time, we should not hesitate to act unilaterally to support an independent Ukraine and counter malign Russian interference where delay threatens these goals, our strategic objectives, or our national interests. In the long run, a stable and secure region will serve our national interests and enhance opportunities for U.S. and European businesses.

Sincerely,
Robert Menendez

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