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US Republicans draft bill to designate Ukraine a 'NATO Plus' state, sanction Russia

by Sergiy Slipchenko January 11, 2022 10:26 PM 2 min read
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Republican Michael McCaul is one of the main proponents of the "Guaranteeing Ukrainian Autonomy by Reinforcing its Defence Act" (GUARD) bill. (Michael McCaul/ Facebook)

A new bill that's about to be introduced to the U.S. House of Representatives advocates for the U.S. to increase military funding to Ukraine and implement strict measures against Russia immediately, according to Politico.

The bill, titled "Guaranteeing Ukrainian Autonomy by Reinforcing its Defense Act" (GUARD), is signed by several top Republicans who hold positions in Foreign Affairs, Armed Services, and Intelligence committees.

The bill comes as the West holds a number of meetings with Russia this week to discuss Moscow's military buildup along the Ukrainian border and security in Europe.

The Republicans' proposal would provide Ukraine with $200 million to help Ukraine bolster its defense capabilities, specifically to fund air defense and maritime vessels.

Voice of America reported that the document also suggests instating Ukraine as a "NATO Plus" member, such as Japan or South Korea, who are not part of NATO but are considered partners of the alliance.

The Republicans also reportedly seek to reinstate sanctions on Russia's Nord Stream 2 pipeline. Nord Stream 2 is an undersea gas pipeline from Russia to Germany allowing Russia to bypass Ukraine. If it’s allowed to operate, Ukraine can lose up to $2 billion in transit fees per year, as well as an important bargaining chip to hold back Russia’s aggression.

"(Russian President) Vladimir Putin must take note that Congress will not stand for the reconstitution of Russia’s sphere of influence nor the abandonment of Ukraine and our other NATO allies and partners in Central and Eastern Europe," said Republican House representative Michael McCaul, one of the sponsors of the GUARD bill, as quoted by Politico.

When asked if the bill would hinder NATO's and U.S. negotiations with Russia in upcoming meetings this week, Republican spokeswoman Leslie Shedd said the bill will instead strengthen President Joe Biden's position and should be present at upcoming discussions.

U.S. Democrats currently hold a majority in the House of Representatives meaning the bill is unlikely to be passed into law.

Additionally, nine bipartisan senators from the NATO Observer Group sent a letter expressing that NATO should reinforce its position on the Black Sea and on its eastern flank. They also stressed that Russia must not be given veto power over the alliance's decisions.

The upcoming talks are a result of Russia exerting pressure on Ukraine by massing over 100,000 troops on its borders in what Western and Ukrainian intelligence see a threat of a large-scale invasion.

On Dec. 17, Russia published drafts of its demands for NATO and the U.S. which include ending expansion of NATO and reducing its military presence in Eastern Europe.

The NATO-Russia Council meeting is scheduled for Jan. 12. The OSCE Permanent Council will meet on Jan. 13.

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