NEWARK, N.J. – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today responded to reports that Exxon Mobil is seeking a waiver on Russia sanctions from the U.S. Treasury Department in order to move forward with a planned venture with Rosneft, a majority Russian government-owned oil company.

"Russia's activities in Ukraine and Syria have clearly shown that they cannot be trusted to be responsible or humane players on the international stage,” Sen. Menendez said. “The United States and Europe imposed sanctions on Russia for violating the international order, and Vladimir Putin has taken no steps that would merit the removal of any sanctions. I hope that American companies and the Trump Administration will keep these broader implications in mind as they consider any waiver requests, regardless of Exxon’s longstanding record of lobbying against these sanctions.

“Sanctions are one of the most important diplomatic tools we have to discourage countries from violating international law by cutting off critical resources and access to international markets. Sanctions are only effective if they are rigorously enforced, and exempting major business transactions fundamentally undermines their ability to act as a deterrent.”

Watch Sen. Menendez question Secretary of State Tillerson about Exxon’s lobbying against Russia sanctions during his time as the company’s CEO.

During his January confirmation hearings, Sen. Menendez specifically questioned Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Exxon’s extensive lobbying against sanctions while he was the company’s CEO. Mr. Tillerson claimed he was unaware of Exxon ever lobbying against Russia or Iran sanctions, but after the senator presented the required government disclosure forms showing Exxon did register to lobby on the issue, Mr. Tillerson responded by asking the senator if Exxon was lobbying for or against the sanctions.

Sen. Menendez is the architect of U.S. sanctions imposed on Russia—including Rosneft and its CEO Igor Sechin, a close ally of Russia President Vladimir Putin—in response to its annexation of Crimea in Ukraine. As a result, the senator is among a handful of U.S. government officials to be personally sanctioned by Putin and banned from entering Russia.

Just last week, Sen. Menendez led a bipartisan letter to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin raising national security concerns about Rosneft’s potential acquisition of critical U.S. energy infrastructure.