tv Senate Foreign Relations Hearing on Russia Ukraine CSPAN June 18, 2019 3:42pm-5:32pm EDT
court and how the supreme court may be considered to be more and more political as the years have gone by. tell us who robert cooper greer was and how he falls into this conversation. >> that's dangerous. i wondered if they would alert you to this. you're a supreme court expert. i'm on dangerous ground here. robert cooper greer is considered one of the two or three worst supreme court justices of all time. my name is greer. i'm related to him. fortunately i'm only descended from his brother and not him directly. he was involved in one of the worst incidents in supreme court history. the dredd scott case. robert cooper greer voted for dredd scott. he's the only northerner who
voted for dredd scott. he did that in a conspiracy with james buchanan. they thought the issue of slavery would be done with. there would be no threat of a civil war. come to order. i want to first thank our expert witness anpanel. your testimony was excellent, very informative. we look forward to your oral testimony and answering of our questions. i want to apologize to everybody for the late start to the hearing. we had a number of votes. as a result, i'm going to ask that my opening statement be entered into the record and we'll have a very full conversation. i'll be able to make my points during question and answers. with that, i'll turn it over to senator shaheen. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i'm also happy to submit my opening comments for the record and look forward to the testimony of both our panels. >> thank you.
ambassador volker has agreed to give his opening testimony and slide over and let the other witnesses give their opening testimony and then we'll open to questions. ambassador volker is executive director of the mccain institute for leadership. 23 years of experience working on european policy. his postings include ambassador to nato and principal assistant assistant for eurasian affairs. deputy director of the private office of then nato secretary general robertson. >> thank you, mr. chairman and thank you senators for the opportunity to testify today. i also have a statement that i would like entered for the record if i may. i'll just try to speak a little bit candidly with you about the situation in ukraine.
first off, it's an honor for me to be here. second, i want to thank all of you senators from both sides of the aisle for your commitment and dedication to ukraine. it is critically important. if i may, let me just say a few words about why that matters, where ukraine is today and a few suggestions looking forward. concerning why ukraine matters, i think most importantly we start with the people. ukrainians are people who seek and deserve freedom, rule of law and security just like other people in europe. the united states has led the development of nato and a strong nato for decades. the european union has also helped build a strong, prosperous, free secure europe. there's no reason why ukraine or others in the region should not be part of that. they have very much the same values and aspirations. the first thing is the people.
the second is that they are a country that is fighting a war of self-defense. they have been attacked. their territory has been seized. the fighting continues to go on and they are in need of support. if we go back to the helsinki principles of 1975 which the soviet union supported at the time, no changing of borders by force, no coercion, countries have the right to choose their own security orientations and so forth. those are principles that we need to continue to uphold. if we don't do so in ukraine, we run the risk of seeing them challenged across europe. that would be dangerous for all of us. if we don't invest in security today, we will pay for the lack of security tomorrow. now, where we are today, ukraine is really in the balance.
they've just had a presidential election. the president was elected with 73% of the popular vote and he came out of nowhere coming into this. he has zero seats in the parliament so ukraine has gone to early parliamentary elections. his major task right now is to take that 73% public support and convert it into actual votes for his program. that is his political challenge at the moment. in the course of his campaign, he promised substantial massive reform of everything from corruption to the economy, political systems, judiciary. that's what the ukrainian people voted for. with 73% of the public voting for him, he also generated very high expectations of what policies he would pursue as president. let me take a minute and say that i believe that president poroshenko also did an excellent job of promoting reforms in
ukraine during the last four years, probably more accomplished in the last four years than the preceding 20. the people wanted to go faster, further, more aggressively. that's what president has promised. as long as he is willing to continue to advance that agenda, he deserves as much of our support as we can give him. i believe that he has a few other important challenges ahead of him. one of them is amassing the political capital to carry out real reform. a lot of the power structures in ukraine are behind the scenes in the form of oligarchs who control economic assets, control the media. it's going to be very difficult for him to take on that system. but ultimately taking on that system is what is exactly essential for ukraine to break free of its past and take advantage of the natural resources, the great human
capital, its position as a country of potential phenomenal growth within europe. since he's become president, of course everyone is putting their oth oar in the water to try to influence the outcome of the ukraine, whether that's the russians, the oligarchs, reformers. we've seen an increase in russian media propaganda and presence in the ukrainian media over the past few weeks. these are all areas of concern and another reason why it's important to support the president as much as we can. concerning u.s. policy, we have over the past few years engaged in a significant strengthening of u.s. policy. i would argue we have gone from a period in which time appeared to be on russia's side to a time in which time now appears on the on crew craneukraine's side. they're more pro western, pro
european, pro nato. that's giving ukraine a resilience as they go through this period that i think will serve them well in the long-term. we have worked very hard to keep worn policy unified and strong. unified and strong. we and the eu maintained sanctions and increased sanctions. the u.s. lifted the ban on arm sales to ukraine. that has gone through with the acceptance of our european allies as well. we have strengthened the armed forces. just today we are announcing how we are dealing with an additional $125 million in support for the ukraine's military that the congress approved. we are grateful for that. so we have maintained a much stronger position. i believe we have a sustainable position. if what russia wants is a ukraine that is once again part of a russian sphere of influence a greater russian empire, i believe that opportunity is lost because the ukrainian people will never go back there. what we also have done is make
sure that we have a hand outreached to work together with russia to end this conflict if russia wishes to do that. thus far, we have not seen any indication from russia that they do want to do that. in fact, they remain in denial about their responsibility. they actually lead the military forces in the dome bus. they pay for the contract soldiers that are there. they hand pick the civil administrations. they pay for those civil administrations. they provide the intelligence services. so this is 100% russian-controlled. and yet russian denies their involvement and says that this is an internal ukrainian matter which we know not to be the case. we have continued to insist that russia release the sailors that it seized in november in international waters. we have urged them to pursue a longer term seesfire. i reached out recently to my russian counter-part to see whether they believe it is time
to get together and see if we can make any progress. certainly my consultations with you in ukraine with the french and germans, we believe there is an opportunity to move ahead again, at least it is worth a try. we need to know whether russia wants to take it seriously and seize such an opportunity thas well or not. we haven't seen any evidence of that. in terms of outreach, i think that the future of ukraine over the next five years is going to be shaped in the next three months, how this election comes out. how president zelensky assembles a government and whether he is able to operate independently and in charge as president of ukraine without undue influence of any individuals or oligarchs in ukraine will be absolutely critic critical. it is important he knows he has the full support of the united states and europe no doing so. we have reach out significantly. secretary pompeo called candidate zelensky and then
president poroshenko on the eve of the elections. president trump called to congratulate president dlenski on the night of the election. as you know, senator, you took part in a presidential delegation along with secretary perry myself and the eu ambassador to be there for the inaugurati inauguration. we had a lengthy meeting with the president then. since then president trump has written to president dlenski indicated he would welcome him for a visit to the white house. we have engaged in a number of ways. our u.n. ambassador hosted the president for a dinner in brussels. he has also made the rounds in why were. is in berlin today and paris yesterday. we are reaching out in a variety of ways. i hope we are able to assemble another trip to ukraine in advance of his white house visit in the next several weeks. finally, i do want to put one point out there. it is very important that we do note forget about the people of
the dome bus. their living through a war on their territory of a prewar population of 4 million. it's down to 1.5 to 2 million. they are dealing with threats to water supply, a collapsed economy, environmental degrade ace, pressure on the health care system, lack of freedom of movement, and particular difficulty in crossing down bury crossings between the occupy area and the rest of ukraine, outages of electricity, outages of cell phone services which is vital means of communication. so it is a grinding, awful situation for the peep in the area. they need as much support as the ukrainian government can give them and as we can give them. ultimately that's why we need to keep a spotlight on this issue as you are doing with this hearing because we can't forget about those people even though woe see a very difficult situation in terms of resolving this conflict going ahead. ultimately what we seek, and this has been u.s. policy as
long as i have been involved is the restoration of ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity and the safety and security of all ukrainian citizens regardless of ethnicity, nationality or religion. with that, senator, i end my remarks and i look forward to the question-and-answer. >> thank you ambassador for first of all your past service and your future service as it relates to ukraine. we will call up the other witnesses right now. while that's happening just a couple of comments. i really do believe that ukraine is just ground zero in this geopolitical conflict between russia and the united states. we are really here in support of the ukrainian people. this has been i think a real demonstration of bipartisan support. i keep pointing out to our european partners the fact that on a unanimous basis we approved lethal defense witnessry.
that's a big deal and demonstrates that support. final comment before we go into additional opening statements. i meet with a delegation of their foreign affairs committee. i expressed to them my concern that if there is conflict between the legislative branch and the new president that's not good from the standpoint of maintaining strong unanimous support here in congress. they have it now. they can maintain it as long as they work together as patriots for the benefit of ukraine. so that's what i think we all need to encourage. that's kind of the support we need to give. we want to welcome our next witnesses. our first witness we will go to is ambassador john heshs, the director of the atlantic council's your asiaer? . he served for 31 as a foreign service office in the department of state retiring from the rank of career minister. he was ambassador to ukraine from 2003 to 2006 and ambassador from uds beck stan from 2000 to 2003. auto resippient of the gished service award, and others.
ambassador herbst. >> thank you senator johnson and senator shaheen. it is on honor to be here. i know you want to save time. i am tempted to say, you heard what curt said. i agree. we are here to talk about one of the most critical issues on the national agenda today. the kremlin's war against ukraine and ukraine's efforts to transform itself into a rule of law society closely aligned with europe and the broader democratic world. we are in a period of great power conflict that pits the democratic world against author tearians. unfortunately, president putt seine challenging the world order. he claims a right to a sphere of influence in russia's neighborhood. he launched two wars, against georgia in 2008 and against ukraine since 2014. the u.s. has a vital interest in stopping kremlin revisionism.
the place to do it is in ukraine. kiev has fought the world's second most powerful miller the to a standstill. i came back from ukraine with general poe tray as. he is impressed by what he saw. he visited commanders at the front and the troops along the line of contact with the russians. there are 2500 russian military officers leading the kremlin war and they have at their disposal over 450 tanks and 700 piece of artillery. that's very serious hardware. despite the two minks fires there hasn't been a day of peace since the spring of 2014. less than 18 hours after we left the front, russian artillery hit a building wounding four civilians. over 13,000 ukrainians have died in this war. moscow hopes this constant pressure on ukraine will force
the government to stop building a democratic and open society oriented toward the west. so far the kremlin is not succeeding. an important reason for moscow's failures. they have two reasons. a weak economy. and also the russian people clearly stated they don't want russian forces fighting in ukraine. the first means moscow is susceptible to economic pressure. the second is putin must hide his casualties and keep them to a minute mum because the people don't want solars fighting in ukraine. ittics ma it possible to help ukraine, and at low cost. western sanctions impose a real cost on russia's economy, 1. to to 1.5% of gdp growth is lost because of the sanctions. western military support special advanced weapons nullify moscow's tank advantage. i salute president trump for his
courage in sending the javelins to ukraine. this u.s. should send more and also sent counter-battery radar for missiles. these reduce casualties. the u.s. should provide shore radar, mark v speed boats and anti- -- harpoon missiles to deter attacks at sea which we have seen increasingly in the last 18 months. western support has been successful but not as agile as it could be. part of that is due to reluctance on some pems of the eu. chancellor merkel deserves credit but moscow is seeking ways to increase pressure on ukraine. starting in the spring of 2018 it began an inspection regime of ships heading to ukraine's ports. as a result, shipping from ukraine has dropped 33 to 50%
imposing new economic cost on ukraine. in november last year, russian ships attacked and seized three ukrainian ships. they have imprisoned the 24 sailors. no sanctions were imposed for the inspections system on ukrainian ships. and u.s. sanctions for this came late and were weak. congress played a major role in sanctions policy. it should consider sanking a major russian bank. the senate has introduced the legislation the defending american security from aggression act of 2019. it could be the vek for a strengthening our sanctions policy. the u.s. should be able to persuade germany and the eu to drop the north stream two project, a pipeline that will allow the kremlin to bypass ukraine and exert influence over eastern europe.
chancellor, he innel has asked europe to guarantee substantial flow of gas. but numerous statements have cast this problem into doubt. with this in mind congress and the u.s. should consider sanctions on companies prying the high-tech necessary to complete the project. this needs to be managed very carefully since u.s./german cooperation has been vital for overall sanctions policy. it is hard to imagine north stream two proceeding if it permits moscow to shut out ukraine as a gas transporter. moscow has been trying to influence political developments in the ukrainian presidential election. a task force was set up to monitor ukrainian information. they found disinformation and cyber attack.
but there is little success. moscow was pleased about the tee feet of the previous president but are skeptical of zelensky. moscow is now bessey trying to undermine ukraine's upcoming parliamentary elections. president zelensky has two great battles to win, against kremlin aggression and domestic impeding reform. with assistance from the u.s. and the eu he can win both battles. congress should do its part in helping win those battles. >> dr. p ark liokova. the doctor specializes in russian foreign policy, european populism and u.s./russian/europe relations. previously she was a director of research and senior fellow or
europe and your asia at the council. doctor. >> thank you chairman johnson, ranking member and distinguished members of the subcommittee. it is an hopper and privilege to address you today in this important issue. thank you for inviting me to speak. i could also shorten my comments and say i agree with what the ambassadors just said. but in interests of laying out a broader picture won't do that. ukraine remains an area of contestation between u.s. and the russia. the united states must continue to support ukraine's democratic path, its euro atlantic future and its ability to defend itself. deterrence of an increasingly aggressive russia must start in ukraine. the kremlin seeks to keep ukraine in a so-called permanent gray zone. to do so, russia continues to
destabilize ukraine in conventional and non-conventional means. today i am going to focus my comments on the non-conventional warfare against ukraine, ukraines problems challenges and reforms and what the u.s. should do to continue ukraine's progress. one comment on the threat. russia continues to occupy and militaryize ukraine's crimea peninsula. over the last 18 months we have seen a steady and significant build up of russian military capabilities in crimea and the surrounding waters. in january 2017 russia began deploying s-400 surface the air missiles to crimea. since then, at least five known had 00 armed battalions have been positioned in crimea. this means that with the s 400 presence along with capabilities on land and surrounding water, russia military has de facto
dominance in the black sea region. this is something we must pay attention to from our national security interests. ukraine has long been a test lab for russia's growing arsenal of political warfare, information warfa warfare, cyber attacks and the use of energy supplies to exert pressure. russia has a long track record. intervening in ukraine's elections since at least 2004, the orange revolution. ukraine's experience is thus a bellwether for assessing the russian tactics that may be deployed here in the united states or against our allies. for example, ahead of ukraine's most recent presidential elections the russian media spread disinformation claiming the candidates were u.s. puppets and that the election systems were controlled by ukraine's intelligence agencies among other colorful disinformation campaigns. in a new and worrying tactic a russian operator confessed to
being tasked with identifying ukrainians who would be willing to resident out their facebook accounts for the spread of disinformation. russian information warfare doesn't stop when the ballot box closes ukraine remains russia's top target but their digital domain is an ongoing threat to democracy including 2 democracy in the united states. on the cyber front there have been at least 15 known rna attributed cyber attacks in ukraine. a 2014 cyber attacks caused a blackout affecting over 220,000 you crepians. the malware used in that attack has been identified as -- what happens in ukraine doesn't stay in ukraine. further, russia has continued to aggressively use natural gas as a tool of political warfare. the current gas transit contract between ukraine and russia
expires at the end of this clen darr year. this raises concern that with negotiations stalled of a potential gas crisis this coming january that could also affect supplies to europe. north stream two is part of russia's political warfare against ukraine. when completed the pipeline will allow russia to circumstance up vent ukraine as a transit route for europe-bound natural gas. it is important to know in addition to what ambassador herbst has laid out north stream two has a security objective. currently, the dome bus tracks perfectly with the gas pipelines in the ukraine. it means the gas pipelines are de facto acting as a deterrent. without russian gas flowing through those pipelines the deterrent will also disappear. ukraine has made significant strides on reforms.
most signaturely they reformed the north sector and clean up the banking factor. taken together it is estimated these reforms return up to $6 billion in annual revenue to ukraine. still, it is important to know that ukraine's new president inherits an embattled anti-corruption institution structure. for example, the national anti-interruption bureau is meant to investigate high level corruption but convictions remain elusive because ukraine failed to reform its judicial sector. this must be the priority for the new administration and the incoming parm. until the ukrainian government makes a serious effort to tackle corruption it will remain a vulnerability the kremlin will exploit. while with their votes the ukrainians close the door to the east they must still work to keep the door to the west open. the united states has led the national effort to help ukraine
defend itself. th this body have provided aid. the funds and programs have gone a long way to secure ukraine's sovereignty. on sanctions since 2014 the u.s. government sanctioned at least 762 individuals and entities under the combined authorities afforded to the administration. this is a significant number. sanctions against russian entities and individuals should continue to be a core tool of u.s. strategy to deter further russians agreg. it is critical further sanctions especially those against russian energy companies be coordinated with your europeans allies and sanctions should be only one part of a broader u.s. strategy. in addition the united states should continue to put pressure on kiev to maintain judicial reforms and provide our assistance together with the eu
and national partners. should continue bilateral engagement with the ukrainian government. i would hope to see a visit by president zelensky here in the near future. russia's invasion of ukraine has assured ukraine's western orientation. the kremlin has lost the ukrainian people but as ukraine's new government forms kiev will need continued international support led by the united states and will also need commitment to spiritual integrity and a resolve to impose additional costs on russia for it is behavior. ukraine cannot be permanently relegated to the gray zone. moscow see as successful democratic ukraine as a threat to president vladimir putin's authoritarian regime. it is in russia's interest to see you crepe's democratic and economic reforms fail. therefore it should be our mission to ensure they do not.
thank you. >> thank you doctor. our final witness is dr. james carfano. he is .have of the catherine and shelby cohen davis institute for international studies of the the heritage foundation. a 25-year army veteran, the doctor served in europe and south korea retiring with the rank of lieutenant colonel. he is also an adjunct professor. he focus on the national security required to secure the long term sbrsz of the nights providing for the public providing economic growth and securing civil liberties. >> thank you. i have two thank youless. first of all i want to thank the subcommittee for holing a very important hearing on an issue that's important to the united states. but i think we thank curt volley kerr for his service. >> we agree. >> really is. i made five points in my
statement for the record which i won't read. one is to talk approximate the importance of the bilateral relationship and why we should care about the ukraine. the second was to stress which i don't think we can do it emphatically enough that the problem is putin. his policies are the chief destabilizing threat in the region. we should never lose focus and sight on that. the third is what everybody else on the panel mentioned which is the important and early interaction with the new presidency. also to focus with the broader and regional united states on how many things going on outside of ukraine are important to the success of ukraine. finally, to mention something i think is really important, which is not only to keep the door open for ukraine but the united states should lead through that door. if i could briefly emphasize two of those points, why the u.s./ukraine relationship is so important and on the importance of regional engagement and nato. the united states is a global power with global interests and
global responsibilities. to exercise that we have got to connect to the rest of the world. the three most important pieces of the would recalled that do that are europe, the middle east and the indo-pacific. it is in our vital interests that those parts of the world are at peace and prosperous. or alliances, our relationships are the key to doing that. often overlooked in that and particularly in regard to western europe is the role of small states. not that ukraine is small but small in population and power compared to some of other states in europe. small states are critical for three reasons. one is often it is not how big they are but where they are and. >> translator: geopolitical position is crucial. i think that's definitely true for the ukraine which is part of this i think vital backbone between europe and russia that has to be stable and coherent, both politically and economically but alsoeeio graphically. the second thing is our alliances in why he were is
based on collective defense, the choice of countries to decide their future and who they choose to partner with this their future to and you are that keeping the door open for countries that want to john that alliance is incredibly important. certainly in the case of ukraine. the third thing is at the end of the day small nations can be net contrittor to collect their defense. -- collective security in the west. the second point is the larger regional engagement of the united states in europe and how important that is to the future of ukraine. we mentioned concerns about north stream, which i share, there are others. the three cs initiative is one. the fruition of that will improve the entire region not just in energy but in terms of regional economic integration
and economic growth. it is important for the united states to strongly support that. i mentioned in my testimony the importance of better u.s. -- pardon me. better ukrainian/hungarian relationships and how the united states plays an important role there. also implied is the broader issue of black sea security. that's a regional challenge. having that successful is -- that also has an impact on the ukraine. finally i on the with aed to mention briefly the importance of not just keeping the door open for ukrainian relationship to nato but that the united states leads toward that door. i think now that north macedonia is essentially off the table, it's time for a discussion about the next round of nato enlargement. i think north macedonia not only kinds of cleared the table. it also taught us a really important lesson. that countries can fig auto you are to out really complex difficult problems for their own collective security figure out path forward. i think that should make us optimistic about the future of nato enlargement. i also think in the case of
georgia we have a case study in how you can move forward on nato membership despite the thakt that a portion your country is occupied by another country. my colleague, luke coffee has written on this extensively on how within the existing charter membership for georgia is certainly realistic. and i think that sets a press department for ukraine. i think the most important point is vladimir putin cannot have a veto on who gets to join nato by simply occupying a piece of somebody else's company. i look forward to your questions. thank you again. >> thank you all for your testimony. as we work our way through this, one thing i would like to have as a conclusion to this hearing is a list of priorities. literally prioritized. these are the first thing we need to focus on, second, third, fourth and fifth. quick -- i was heartened -- i should get up on my news report,
merkel will only lift russian sanctions if ukraine's sovereignty is restored and mentioned crimea, i thought it was a good sign. in one of your testimonies you talked about how north stream two literally was not economic. it was all about geopolitics. can you first of all explain because it does not make sense what germany is doing there. why you would give that kind of economic power, geopolitical power to russia. can somebody just walk through what the rationales, from the german's perspective, what we possibly can do, the harm it will create to ukraine? >> the argument by those in germany who want north stream two -- because it is not everybody -- is that they want to build pipeline capacity because more pipeline capacity means more energy security. the argument against north
stream two is that first of all, it's economically expensive. you are building in a whole new capacity when the north stream one pipeline is not fully used and you have this large ukrainian pipeline system. a russian bank had a report on its website for a week or so which argued that north stream two was not in the economic interests of russia for the reasons i have just described. it did say it was in the economic interests of putin's kronies who were building north stream two and getting russian contracts. more importantly from our point of view north stream two gives moscow the ability to deliver all the gas it has to europe bypassing not just ukraine but all the countries of central and eastern europe, which means they can play coercive gas diplomacy
with ukraine, with belarus, with poland as they have a number of times over the last years. another point, the current pipeline system which ships russian gas is vulnerable to russian military operations in east and central ukraine. this is another deterrence on kremlin military activity. >> again i think you mentioned how crucial germany is to keep this coalition together and make sure sanks are maintained. how do we deal with this? why is germany doing this? what can we do to stop it. i know you have suggestions on effective sanctions. >> for starters the social democrats in germany traditionally have been rather soft in their approach to moscow. and they are 100% in favor of this project. of course there is the pecuniary circumstance of the former
chancellor of germany working with mr. putin on this project and other gas matters. that's point one. point two, there are german businessmen who will benefit from this project. it is also true, this doesn't come up in the conversation that much that there is opposition to north stream two first in the green party and also in merkel's own party. there is also serious opposition to this within the eu. the eu commission, by and large, is not favorably disposed towards this project. at least 13 eu nations have written against this project. and they believe that north stream two -- it is working through the eu, has been imposed by germany. completely inconsistent with the third energy package of the eu, and inconsistent with the concept of consensus within the eu. i in my testimony focused on the specific i would say kind of condition that chancellor merkel
herself has advocated that the kremlin as part of the north stream two deal should guarantee that a large flow of gas will continue through ukraine's pipelines. but senior pipeline officials cast doubt on it. numerous times over the past several months russian officials and russian gas -- people in the gas industry have warned central and western your penal powers that gas flow through ukraine will cease on december 31st of this year. they are in fact sticking their fingers in chancellor merkel's eyes. but we have not seen a response yet from the german leadership. >> ambassador volley kerr, the ambassador is trying to negotiate with russia and our european partners, and those companies building the pipeline, what do you believe we should do? >> thank you very much. i have been advised that we
don't comment on pending legislation in the senate. i will avoid from commenting on the specific legislation. however, let me join you and ambassador herbst and aliena in saying that the clear motivation between the north stream project is to increase russia's influence over europe and division of europe. and there are many countries in europe that are as concerned about this as we are. so you can look and central and eastern europe. you can look at some western european countries. this is not a uniformly welcome development. for the past decade or so, maybe even a little more, europe has been on a trajectory of increasing its independence, decreasing its reliance on russian gas as part of the mix in europe. this project actually reverses that trend. so the motivation behind the legislation that is pending is clearly to try to stop that
development, stop the re-increase of dependence on russian gas from both the source and the hard means of supply. and i think we agree with that thrust of that legislation. >> let me ask it this way. if sanctions were imposed on those countries building the pipeline would that complicate your job? >> not at all n. that 79 are, i think everyone knows that there are many issues out here. but the fundamental issue is one of russia knowing exactly what it's doing in fighting in eastern ukraine and trying to use that to gain political leverage over kiev. the germans know that, the french know that. we talk about it openly. we have differences of view over north stream but fnly we know where the issues lie with russia. >> thank you, mr. chairman. and thank you all very much for being here today and for your
testimony. as has been pointed out, one of the main tools that the united states and the eu have used against russia has been sanctions. so can you comment on how effective those sanctions have been in addressing russians' behavior? and have they done anything to help resolve the ukraine conflict or restrain russian aggression? >> i can start, perhaps, senator. as all of us mentioned in our testimonies, i believe it is estimated that the u.s. sanctions with the combination of european sanctions cost them between 1 and 1.5% annually. the russians adapted to this new reality. in my view the greatest message sent by the regime is for that reason why i strongly believe the sanctions should be coordinated by european allies and also with our other allies,
canada, australia most notely because that sends a message to the kremlin there will be consequence force increased escalation. there is an argument to be made, however, which maybe my colleagues would disagree with that in terms of changing behavior on the ground sanctions haven't achieved that. yet targeted sanctions against specific russians individuals which has been the tact the u.s. pursued in the most recent sanctions rounds i think have been very, very effective in sending a clear message that there will be consequences for increasing escalatory behavior. so i will stop there. >> i agree that the sanctions have not persuaded moscow to cease its eye depression in ukraine. but they have been a reason for moscow not escalating. and that's very important. but there's a second, to my mind, very important reason for the sanctions. the economic cost is real.
over time, this will have a major impact on russian economic production. they cannot sustain a world class military with a third world economy. and we are contributing to their economic problems. if they are going to pursue a revisionist foreign policy, it is in our interests that their economy not be able to sustain a world class military indefinitely. >> well, i certainly agree with that. you know, that's why i'm sponsoring the basca sanctions. do we have any estimates about how long they can continue to operate with this kind of a hit to the economy? >> i think the answer is forever, because that's the nature of authoritarian regimes, they have the capacity to redirect resources as they see fit. >> let me rephrase that. how long they can continue with this kind of a hit to support the military and the build up in
the way this they have been. >> i think the answer is the same. >> still indefinitely? >> i think the upon which my copanelists made is one is understand the purpose of sanctions. it is a very unlikely an authoritarian regime that sanctions are going to change behavior. the purpose of sanction is to punish behavior. i think that has been extraordinarily effective. but a sanction is a tool just like a tank is a tool. so a task isn't a strategy. a tank is effective in driving across europe in world war ii because it is done in the context of a whole bunch of things. when we look at sanctions we should never have just a discussion like are the sanctions achieving our end state. but are they contributing to our overall strategy? the goal is to end russia's destabilizing influence in western europe. i think the combination of the sanctions with punishment and
bringing together solidarity and the military deterrence of the sprang nato presence and working on energy security for western europe and others -- together i think it makes perfect sense and taking the sanctions away would be like having a table taking one of the legs away and expecting it not the fall over. >> this may be a question for you ambassador voluker. are the men'ska agreements a way forward? do you think they have any credibility at this point? or should we abandon those and look for another way feared? >> thank you very much for that question. let me add on to the sanctions point. i agree with what james just said. sanctions don't work until the day they do. so you keep them in place for that reason. in addition to that, you have --
i'm sorry, i lost my train of thought. phone rinking. let's turn the minks. on minks, i think it is very important the minks agreements stay in place because they are the most important means by which russia formally recognized the territorial seg integrity of ukraine even if in reality they don't. it is the basis on custom the european union keep sanctions in place. in addition, it is the framework that has everything in the bag, everything on the table, if you will, seesfire, withdrawal of heavy weapons, humanitarian access, all the things that are necessary for a solution. what is lacking in minks is the political will of russia to actually implement it. as i said they are denying they have a responsibility in this. i don't think it outlasted its urps approximate. i think it serves a very important purpose. but what we have to do, this comes back to the point i wanted
to make. we have to get to the point where russia makes a different decisions. sanction is a part of a strategy, it is one piece among many, that can add up to a decision in russia that says, you know, it's not worth it, it is not working. that's what i think we are really striving for through the combination of sanctions, through support for ukrainian reform, anti-corruption, support for the military, all of these things add up to making it more and more clear to russia that their effort to resubordinate ukraine to its will is not going to work. >> so witness of the things that we have done since 2017 is we have put in place legislation called the women peace and security act that defines a strategy to include women at the table as we are looking at conflict negotiations. as we look ahead to a time when we hope there will be negotiations to end this conflict in ukraine, how important is it to have women at
the table in those negotiations? ambassador volker, do you want to go first? >> i can go first. >> i would like to say something on that, though, because when you visit the conflict area in eastern ukraine you meet almost uniquely with women. the young men have all gone away because they don't want to be drafted into the military forces russians. young women have gone away because it is not safe. and the people that are there are elderly and mostly women. and they are holding down the property so that they try to maintain some semblance of continuity for life in the future. i don't think there is a way to talk about peace and the restoration of normal life without women. >> i will make one quick comment. in the context of ukraine there was a women's militia group. women organized the -- primarily women organized the delivery of food and other supplies to the front in the very early days when the ukrainian military wasn't able to organize those kinds of services themselves and
they continue to be incredibly helpful in resettling the idps. there is 1.5 million displaced people in ukraine right now. women play a strong role in the communities where those individuals ends up. lastly on a broader scope about women in conflict resolution, there are many stud auto he is that show when there are more women at the table you end up with a better negotiated solution at the end. absolutely. i think it is absolutely critical. >> can i just say i was really pleased to see the administration come up with a strategy to actually implement the act. >> me too. >> when you look at that, you know, where can it work and be effective you have to have a mode couple of security, you have to have a mode couple of civil society and you have to have some capacity for economic growth to actually implement those kinds of programs and make them happen. i think ukraine is really the poster child for where this program ought to work. >> thank you. so you are all in agreement.
>> senator portman. >> thank you mr. chairman. i was thinking as i was hearing you talk about the women in ukraine. i was there last month. and met with two of the strong women from the previous administration. and one is the minister of health who many of you all know. and the other was the minister of finance. boy, two strong women who have taken on some heroic reforms. i'll leave it there. you are absolutely right, senator, women play a key role in this. mr. chairman thank you for holding this hearing. it is timely and it is wonderful to hear from a panel of experts all of whom basically agree on the need for us to keep the pressure on and to help this fledgling country that's trying to do the right thing. thanks to some of my
constituents back home. we have a big ukrainian community in ohio. i got involved in these issues early on. when i was there, you could still see the scorch mark asks splel the burning rubber and the encampment still exists. i work well with president poroshenko but president zelensky said something that i have repeated since in the media. i don't talk about our specific conversation, but that i thought it was telling. i congratulated him of course for winning 74% of the vote. i said that doesn't normally happen in the united states of america. maybe i am wrong. maybe some of my colleagues have had votes like that. but probably not. and his response wasn't, yes, you know, i ran a great campaign or you know, we had all the right things going on. he said, you know, it's not about me.
it's about a hunger for reform. and that's really important right now. so as we talk about the importance of pushing back on the russian aggression, we also have to talk about the importance of reform and transparency and fighting corruption. and i think there is no question in my mind that he is personally committed to that and that he needs our help to be able to accomplish what he would like to do in terms of truly making this transition looking to the west, a democratic country that's prosperous that practices preenterprise and pushes back on the corruption. so i am encouraged. i was encouraged today when the department of defense announced plans to provide ukraine with an initial $250 million in security assistance. that's consistent with what we appropriated here of course and authorized. that's $1.5 billion since 2014. which i raised with the president. i also raised that with general come chock whom some of you met with recently, i know. they appreciate it. they get it.
i mean this is my taxpayers, taxpayers represented on this fanl and around the senate who have been willing to say you know we are going to stand up beside this country that wants to move toward a more expectistic future and toward the -- optimistic future and toward the west. it is in many respects the example of what we all talk about in terms of the competition between us and russia and two different vision force the future. i am pleased to see that the aid that we authorized first in 2015 through legislation didn't actually happen until 2017 forly that will defensive aid is now there and more is coming. you will see in the ndaa the bill we are about to vote on here in congress that there will be additional ideas expressed there. i won't talk about them in specifics because the chairman is working through those. but all of us on the panel have been involved in ensuring we get
the rite aid there. ambassador volker you have been instrumental in ensuring that we know what they want and what they need. my hope is we will have good news here shortly. i was on the contact line last year at a time when the snipers were pretty active. one of the things that i think i think most of my constituents don't realize is the degree to which it is still a hot war. when i placed a wreath at the memorial recently for the ukrainians who lost their lives there, includes about 3,000 troops, who continue to face artillery and the snipers. ambassador herb hadsst your tesy was in many respects the most powerful for me because you are talking about what's going on on the contact line, the number of officers involved, the number of tanks and artillery -- i amazing
the ukrainians have been able to push back the way they have. we have to help them not because we want war but because we want peace. what happened in november, the 24 sailors and what we are going do about it? do you recommend additional sanctions? i think ambassador herbst you talked about maybe an additional company to be sanctions. i will tell you president zelensky emphasized that. he is focused like a laser on that issue. it was a flagrantly illegal attack. there is no question about it. they were not near russian territorial waters. i think the united nations has not been nearly as aggressive as it should be in terms of pushing back. i think we moves much too slowly. nato moves too slowly. what should the u.s., nato, the u.n. law of the sea tribunal came out just before i was there last month and made it clear this was an illegal act and the sailors must be returned. what more can we do?
how can we actually make this happen? and shouldn't, ambassador, this be a precondition to even negotiations with russia on any kind of a maesful settlement of the dome bus. >> thank you for your comments and for that question. first off i agree with you i think the provision of security assistance to ukraine is vitally important. i think it has had an impact both psycho la jolla,cally as well as militarily on the professionalization and the capacity of ukrainian forces. i think it is important that ukraine reciprocate with foreign military purchases from us as well. i think they intend to. in terms of priorities i think the anti-sniper systems that were provided through military financing were very important. the anti-tank javelin missiles also very important. we need to look at air defense, coastal defense, maritime picture, coastal capabilities. all of them very important. second thing i want to call
attention to nato's decision at the administerial meeting that took place here in washington on the black sea strategy. i think that also -- it was a u.s. initiative to talk about this. other countries picked it up. it is very important that nato be present in the black sea, that it support freedom of navigation, that it provide a fabric of port calls and engagement with ukraine, and other states in the region. if you look around, you have got nato allies, three of them, romania, bulgaria and turkey. you have two partner countries, georgia and ukraine, that are all black sea literal states. it is not by many means russian lake. i think it is important that nato stand up to make clear all of us have an interest in the freedom of navigation, open access the economic development of the region and security of the region. in terms of the curtis straights we have raised at every juncture the importance of russia
releasing these sailors. in letter last week or two weeks ago to my russian counter-part i mentioned it again. it is criminalcal that russia do that. as you said it was an illegal seizure of the vessels and the sailors there is no justification for continuing to hold them. as far as engaging the russians, i think that we have a balance sheet right now where there is nothing going well. if you look at syria. if you look at venezuela. if you look at north korea. if you look at iran. if you look at nuclear issues. you look at ukraine, you look at georgia, there is nothing really on the positive side of the ledger. i think that's a dangerous situation to have generally and even more dangerous if we are not going to be talking with russia at all. i think it is important we do both. we keep the pressure up, calling attention to the ukrainian sailors and demanding their immediate release and that we also be willing to talk with russia if there is an opportunity because of the seriousness of all of the problems that we have. >> senator murphy. >> thank you, chairman.
thank you very much mr. chairman, good to see you all thank you for being here. i was one of the long-time skeptics of providing additionally that will aid to ukraine in part from the beginning this pardon to me ultimately to be as much or more of a political problem as it was a military problem. i think it is important when we have these meetings to fine what the russian objectives are so we can tailor a solution to try to counter those objectives. so ambassador, i will just ask that simple question. my impress is that russia has never and does not to this day want to militarily own all of ukraine, that they want to destabilize the country to a point that ultimately they can reinstall a client government or a friendly government in kiev to be back into their umbrella as was the case prior.
that doesn't mean that military assistance isn't vital. it means, though, that if their ultimate goal is the political conquest of ukraine rather than the military concommittees of ukraine, it should probably inform the way in which we are spending money. is my assumption about russian aims wrong? >> that's an excellent question. no your question is not wrong about russian objectives. but i do have a different perspective about how we go about addressing russia's policies. i agree that russia has a political objective of dominance over the country of ukraine. it is using military force as a means of putting pressure on ukraine toward that objective. i therefore think it is very important that we provide military assistance to ukraine to help sure that russian strategy does not work, that they are not able to increase their military pressure in any effective way. this gives ukraine time, space, confidence, and resilience so
that they can withstand that pressure from russia and not succumb to the political objectives that russia has. so i think there is a political opponent, an economic component,s that an anti-corruption component end to our strategy. but i believe military assistance to the defense of ukraine is vital as with he will. >> i don't deny that. my query is whether we have the allegation between the military spending which is not simply only in the ndaa. it's also the $4 billion per year we are spending on a broader your teen defense initiative that arises out of this versus other forms of support for the ukrainian regime. i will give a different version of this question to doctor pollyacova because you thought about the other means in which ukraine has to develop to fight back, cyber attacks, disinformation, or the ways in which american aid can help ease
the transition to economic reform. it is not outside of the realm of possibility that we could talk about using our financial largest larg larges. are we doing enough in the other sectors? and what more can we be doing? >> thank you for that question, senator. i fully believe that our military support for ukraine should be one part of a much broader full spectrum strategy to ensure ukraine's sovereignty and democratic progress. i would note one thing. looking back at georgia for example, what we see there today is there is no steady, quote, unquote, border between the occupied territories and the georgian government controlled territories. what we see is slow creep on a daily basis of that contact line. that's what we would see in
ukraine if we pulled back our support. in some ways the russian activities in the sea that focus on strangling the ports there is to achieve what they were not able to achieve by land. they failed at that primarily because ukrainians stood their line with u.s. military support. on the political side, i mention in my testimony that we should continue to impose conditionality and any further assistance programs and we should think through in a much more focused way what that actually means. the reason ukraine was able to achieve in the last five years in terms of economic reforce, anti-corruption reforms, energy reforms is because of the sandwich model where you have pressure from the top, including the united states and other international institutions and
pressure from the bottom from civil society. it is our intention to ensure the civil society actors remain to put pressure on the foft to do the right thing and we continue to impose conditionality on top on loans for reforms. this is the model we should follow and i think it is critical to invest in u.s. preps to send a signal to moscow they cannot continue on this creep. >> my question is whether loans for reform is an effective enough tool moving forward. if we admit we are going to spend billions of dollars in the region on military aid why aren't we having a conversation about spending some of that money other than through loans, through direct grants, for other mechanisms as well? i want to squeeze in one additional question. that's back to you, ambassador volker. i thought chairman johnson raised an important point about the need for patriotism, especially at a moment today where there is a difficult
transition of power. and obviously we don't require regular agreement in this body to -- as measure of the health of our democracy. we fight in democracies and that's okay. but there are some pretty powerful members of the opposition in ukraine today and a very new, inexperienced president. what are the -- what are our expectations of the opposition? what are the ways in which we expect them to cooperate? what are the ways in which we expect that they would exercise legitimate opposition? what are the ways that they would cross that boundary that we should be watchful for. >> thank you. i think that's a great framing question because democracy, as you know as an elected official is a competitive process rather than a consensus-based process. people are competing to see the
realizization of their ideas. i think what we expect from the opposition is to stand for principles and policies that will advance the interests of all of you a crane, you a cranian people and hold the government to account and hold the president to account if he is to be competitive in a way that lifts up the country. that has not always been the case in ukraine we have seen people acting on behalf of private interests and a great deal of corruption in the country and not really changing the country officially to advance the interests of the people. there is a fresh opportunity with in rada election that we are going through right now. it will produce a very different roda very different members of the parliament than has been the case up to this point. i do hope that they play a different role than we have seen historically, one of holding the government to account. if i may add two additional points, one of them is on u.s. assistance and the broader ba p
annual there. we do provide other assistance. including aiid ob economic and military reform. but the big ticket from economic assistance is coming from the imf and also from the european union in helping ukraine with a fundamentally difficult budgetary problem. and this therefore gives leverage as well. it's important that we work with the imf and the european union to establish the parameters by which the assistance is given so that ukraine does what it needs to do to advance the right kinds of reforms. my second point in that area, if i can take the opportunity to bring it up, is we often talk about corruption in ukraine as the problem. to be sure it's a problem. but i also believe that corruption is really a symptom of a bigger problem, which is the oligarchic system itself where a handful of people have disproportionate control over so many levers of power in the country. i think there is an opportunity with the new president and with the new parliament to pursue an
aggressive effort to implement anti-trust legislation to break upholdings and in doing so create competition. and in might be something that is done in coordination with the u.s., the eu and the imf, and might be something on which we make the resources and that kind of assistance contingent upon even more far reaching reform in this area that has been the case to date. >> and that connects back to the first point about the legitimate role of the opposition to protect the interests of the country rather than the interests of their own have been -- >> absolutely. right, thank you. >> senator menendez. thank you mr. dharm i have a statement i ask be included in the record at this time. >> without objection. >> mr. chairman i appreciate you holding this hearing. ahead of last december's government 20 meeting president trump said he would not meet with president putin until russia released the ukrainian ships and sailors illegally detained in the the strait.
russia still holds the 24 sailors and ships. yet president trump said he will meet with putin at the upcoming g20 summit. that is not necessarily a bad thing in and of itself. if -- if the president is clear and unequivocal about the remarks he makes to putin on this as well as other things, including our elections, ambassador herbst, what should president trump -- i'm not going to ask ambassador volker because that puts him in a difficult position. not that i'm adverse to that. but in any event, what should president trump be saying to president putin about not only the sailors but the ongoing occupation of crimea, the conflict in the donbas. what is the statement he should be making to him both privately as well as publicly? >> i think that the policies of
the administration vis-a-vis russia and ukraine have been sound policies. meaning on the sanctions on the kremlin for the aggression, the importance on supplying javelins to ukraine. it would be wonderful if when the president saw putin he would say to things that were reflected completely the policy of the administration. the fact that that has not happened in the past has raised confusion and other feelings as well, which i think you're well aware of. so, again, from my standpoint if when he cease putin he would say unequivocally as he has said, you know mr. putin i can't improve release was until you stop aggression in the ukraine. that would be good publicly and prietly. now the sanctions on russia -- i've the architect of fair number of those. but the ones following the kers
attack. weak, ineffective. the fact of the matter is the sailors are in detention. it's abundantly clear that president putin will keep interviewing with the affairs of sovereign states such as ukraine unless the rest of the world firmly and strongly pushes back. i appreciate, bshds herbst, you talk about the legislation that senator graham and i sbraused defending american from kremlin grrgs. doska increase economic and diplomatic and political pressure in response to the interference in the ukraine and around the world. the provisions including sanctions on the 24 fsb sailors deemed complicit in the ker strait atika. sanctions on the russian ship building sector if russia thes violates freedom of navigation
in the strait or anywhere else in the world. that's a hard hitting sanction. i came in at the tail end of the mr. kerafan oh o talking about sanctions. my view is that we only have a handful of peaceful diplomacy tools at hour dploesle the use of aid and trade to induce countries and leaders to act in a certain way. international opinion to the extent that a country and/or a leader is actually subjective to that, and then the denial of aid, trade and access to our financial institutions as a consequence to move them in a different direction. other than that, after 27 years of foreign policy work i haven't figured what other foreign peaceful diplomacy tools we have. now russia uses its military in pursuit of its fobject he was. we don't do that. shouldn't we pass something like
dasca keeping all the elements of the stool together, the energy side, the diplomacy side and all of that. but shouldn't -- i think putin only understands strength at the end of the day. and at the end of the day having real consequences in the sanctions, particularly in some sectors of the russian economy i think would be very significant. what's your view that have. >> i think congress has paid an essential positive role overall in our policy towards russia and ukraine, but particularly in the sanctions area. what you folks did in the summer of 2017 was absolutely critical. and i salute you for it. i spoke positively of the legislation you and senator graham introduced. and i think it has -- it would have a positive impact now. i think that for whatever reasons congressional encouragement is necessary both to move washington and for that matter in a very -- in a less direct way but still a real way
brussels in the right direction. >> ambassador volker, why aren't we doing this? >> well, senator first of all. >> whether by legislative act i don't hold you responsible for that. but certainly some of the things could be sprused by the administration separately of legislative action. >> i was going to say that atop the energies has innocenced sanctions periodically over a period of time. we are in a stronger position now with more pieces of the puzzle referenced than. crime in minsk, the crimea strait now, the elections, the skripal there's been a growth of sanctions against russia. speaking just from my experience, i've always seen a difference of view between various administrations, not only this one, and congress as to who should be in the driver's seat on sanctions. it's always a question as to how much leeway the administration
has in implementation. >> shouldn't we do more? you listed all of the reasons that russia deserves a firmer response. >> yes. >> and the simple question is shouldn't we do be doing more? >> we need doing more and we will continue to do more. >> let me ask you this when i was the chairman of maccommittee i offered the ukraine freedom support act and advocated then with president obama to robustly help the ukrainians. and now in response to russia's illegal actions in the ker strait i called on the -- this administration to increase security assistance to ukraine, including providing lethal maritime assistance and weapons and to assist ukraine's efforts to improve its maritime domain awareness. if we, the united states, taken any steps to increase its support for ukraine security? >> we have. and we appreciate the appropriation that has been made by congress, $250 million in fmf
for this year. the pentagon is moving forward with that. there is announcesment today of how we are dealing with $125 million of that and the priorities you listed maritime awareness. coastal and air defense. those are the discussions under between us and the ukraine. >> i understand the armed forces of the ukraine are in need of army mobile surgical hospitals or m.a.s.h. units and the armed force haves older m.a.s.h. hunts. if we considered transferring some of those to the government of of yurpg. >> i don't know the answer to that. i'd be happy to track it down. there is no reason why we wouldn't. >> would you get it back to to me. one of the things we have to do is take care of them if we want them to fight for their country. >> absolutely. >> darm if i may have another moment. >> absolutely. >> last question, i heard your answer about president zellen
ski. i know he came into office and a strong anti-corruption platform pmt but there are concerns about his connections to certain ukrainian oligarchs. you talked about the challenge of oligarchs in the ukraine as an yund mining element, particularly to egor column knitsky under suspicion of stealing from a bank he coowned. >> the president has denied that that any allege ark controls him. is that the rue of the state department. >> i think the view is it that the president has said the right things. he doesn't have the power in his hands right now to do to he has said he will do. he has zero votes in the r the oda. we believe he deserves the benefit of the doubt. we want to stand by the principles a and policies of reform and fighting the domination of the ukrainian political system biology arks. we hope that he is able to amass
the independence and to execute what he says he will do. and it's our intention to be helpful and to hold him account if he doesn't. >> i'll be looking at the accountability aspect. >> senator barrasso. >> ambassador volker good to see you preponderate i want to talk about illicit comb experts. ukrainian minister for temporarily occupied territories and internally displaced persons reemt stated ukraine is aware of russia's scheme for smuggling coal illegally mind from a part of the occupied donbas to ports of the different countries. the kohl is transported from eastern ukraine across the border to russia where it's repackedage and labeled and sent to europe. i'm concerned about i reports of details millions of dollars of sanctioned coal from the ukrainian break away regions using russian oft businessman as proxies and intermediaries. if is the administration
investigating this trade in coal, the individuals involved in this illicit trade? >> more barrasso, if i may i'd like to offer to get back to you with any specifics on that. but i could say that i share the assessment that this is what's happening. russia has occupied the areas and then a number of people with connection was getting access to resources, repackaging, relabeling trying to make a profit out of this. russia is not investing in the donbas. they are not building new things. fixing mines. a lot of things are in disrepair. but to the extent they are able to extract from there yes it's our perception they are doing so. >> and also for ambassador volker as well as ambassador herbst if i could, please, talking about germany's efforts with regard to ukraine and particularly nord stream which is putin's pliep. it's a german trap, i believe. a year ago when meeting with ukrainian president poroshenko
chancellor merkel said i made clear that a nord stream two project is not the possible without clarity on the transit role of ukraine. what guarantees is germany seeking? what actions is germany taking to ensure that gazpro continues to export through ukraine in can you talk about that topic and your thoughts on it. >> you're right, senator, that chancellor merkel said that russia should guarantee a substantial flow of gas to ukraine even as nord stream ii goes into operation. but moscow has been basically flouting this requirement of the chancellor in a very public way for the last several months. both dsh excuse me both the russian prime minister ant energy minister novak have said that yes they're happy to do this to send gas through ukraine if the economic conditions are viable wsh -- and that's a reasonable condition -- but also if ukraine -- excuse me gazprom
in russia and nof the t e.r. thehouse in ukraine have no issuesen oh the agenda. that's completely unacceptable conditions. they want the ukrainian firm to give up this court settlements it has won which will cost gaz the pr oh m billions this is medvedev words that ukraine must be stable and we know that kremlin characterized unfairly ukraine as unstable. moscow has shown no interest in meeting the chancellor's condition. one more point, multiple times over the past several months russian officials have told western and -- central european european governments that the gas flow through ukraine's pipeline from russia will end on december 31st this year. the point is zero progress. and in fact i would say
regression on this issue. and so far we have seen no reaction from germany. >> ambassador volker anything you'd like to add to that. >> i agree with john's assessment on that. i think that germany has recognized in some ways that its pursued nord stream two puts yourng in a difficult position. it's tried a few things such as negotiating with russia a guaranteed amount of gas transit. russia has no interest in this. and germany is in a quandary. they want to pursue the project for their own reasons. and at the same time they know some of the consequences of it. i do believe also it's appropriate that we put pressure on them. because it's not just us but many countries in rurp are concerned especially in central and eastern europe that would be vulnerable to russia pressure. >> a number of of things we are trying to do is putting that pressure on through the escape act. president trump and the administration do continue to
raise concerns about race ray russia's nord stream ii. the escape act does nouchl a number of things. directing the nato representative to work together with nato member states to achieve energy security. creating a trant tlaptic energy strategy focus z on the security of nature oi lies and parents perrin american energy skprts to the countries. requires the secretary ever energy to approve the energy exports to nato allies. and. i think ambassador volker you and i talked about this, the at the mccain institute on this topic. do you support to recassidiing the threat to nato countries. i'd ask you look at the legislation. >> i will will be happy to take that onboard. i can't comment on specifics of
the legislation but the principles behind what you are saying is where the administration is. you may have seen president trump meeting with president duda this past week in which he was very outspoken ohhen this issue. he is concerned about europe increasing dependens on russian fast as opposed to decreasing it and looking for ways to work with europe and incentivize europe to open that up more, whether through u.s. lng. -- and secretary perry was obviously the lead in the delegation to going to younger or jennerly doesn't have to be american gas but making sure europe maintains freedom of decision so that it is not creating a situation of political compromise with regard to russia. >> thank you. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thanks senator barrasso. you know one of the things i'm concerned dealing with so many eastern, central european countries that aren't part of the eu, aren't part of nato, i've -- i think we have all seen the positive effect -- positive
influence of their attempting to join these organizations. they are able to enact reforms that they wouldn't be able to enact otherwise. we saw that north macedonia and the agreement with greece. if we don't have that capability i think you all agree with the fact that ukraine should move toward eventual nature orr membership. is that correct or incorrect. >> absolutely that is the policy of the administration. >> there are certainly some voices in america i don't agree that are concerned about that. why would we want to obligate ourselves come to the defendant of the smaller countries. we were in immune for the security conference and met with the secretary general solberg. one of the the members raised that issue the devil advocate position. the secretary general said we want to enlarge nato because a larger nato is just good.
it's a defensive alliance. it literally threatens no one. again, i wanted to get it on the record you all agree that we shall be moving forward and cooperating the nations that want to join the european union, want to join nato, it's a good thing, a positive thing. it helps them provide reforms. in anybody want to comment on that. >> yes. >> yes. >> i agree. >> i'll be a bit more expansive if it's okay, senator. >> sure. >> but the great thing about nato is that the it is an alliance of free countries banding together to provide collective defense and that deters attacks against them. and that creates a secure space in which people are able to govern themselves as democracies without threat from outside. there is no reason why that should apply only to some people in europe and not other people in europe. if everybody shares the same values and everybody faces security threats why should it not be the case that all people
have the same opportunity? that's been the basis of nato's policy on enlargement since the time that it first became possible after the fall of the berlin wall. now nato has always insisted and u.s. has insisted countries be ready and meet the standards of doing so. we went through a long period of time ten years from the the ball of the berlin wall until when poland acquired nato themship. ukraine and others have work to do. but the direction on this and the principles behind it have to be crystal clear. >> so, again, nato is a defensive aliebs. i do believe you achieve peace through strength. i am highly concerned about our -- -- what i would consider sermts weak response to the ker strait aggression. i've led two resolutions, one passed last congress, this one we passed the foreign relations committee trying to get attached to the ndaa. we have over 60 senate sponsors calling for the united states to
lead a strong multinational freedom of navigation operation to position maritime assets in the black sea. i know a number of you mentioned this in your testimony. some of you want to comment on what we should do. how strong should our response be- not a kinetic military response but a military show of strength to keep the black sea and the seas open to navigation. because that's what's putin's strategy is is squeezing off the ports and taking control of the black snee mr. kerr fan o. >> from a military perspective i listed necessary in my prepared remarks, that the number one objective irkly in military systems in ukraine is building up maritime capacity. that's clear. >> how many ships did they lose when russia illegally annexed? >> i mean they have virtually no
capacity to either have awareness of their own maritime domain or conduct any law enforcement or operations in that domain. so i don't think that's a big stretch. i mean their capacity is near zero be, right. injury building up the capacity rapidly and taking the open space we created for the russians off the table and making it a competitive space for the ukrainian we've seen the impacts in the land domain. and i think the sea domain -- as -- you know, ased about a problem as they have in air defense that's a bigger problem. but in the maritime domain there is pennsylvania gap that can be closed relatively quickly. but in conjunction with that it's not just important about capacity building for ukraine. it's important about nato -- and partner operations in the black sea area and having a sustained shall shall did not a permanent necessarily but a sustained naval presence that the russians have to take account for within the context of what can be done both in the nato environment and
what can be done bilaterally with our partners in the region. >> senator shaheen has a couple of questions. and i'll close it out. i have a bunch i'll keep you here a little bit longer. >> well i just wanted to follow up on senator johnson's question about what might have been a more aggressive response in the black sea or more robust response in the black sea is probably a better way to put it in the ker strait. and that is what kind of a message does it send to other adversaries of the united states who are watching our response on an issue like this to, for example wsh what's happening with iran in the strait of hormuz? and can you talk about whether there is a connection, and how important it is to have some kind of a consistent policy in response to these kinds of incidents. >> can i just make one short comment then i'll turn to my
colleagues. the great sin was not the response. the great sin was we knew this was coming. we knew the russians were preciping for this with months and notice yet we were a deer in the head lights lights when it happened. that was a sin. i would contrast that with the gulf. because the administration knew it was coming and prepositioned assets and capabilities to deal with it before it happened. and i think in the ukraine where -- when we pop putin in one places looking for something else. the real challenge for the current administration is we need situational awareness to realize where the next russian poke in the eye is coming from process. and we have a response in place to deal with it before getting poked. >> i think fortunately to follow up on my colleague's comments, the russians do make it easy to know where the next poke is coming because the incident in november in the ker strait was preceded by months of harassment of commercial vessels detentions
by the russian fsb. we knew -- and we continue to know when the russians are business cheh testing the waters, in this case literally and seeing no response they know they can move forward. that's what happened in november. the fact we waited three months to combos any sort of costs as weak as they were meaning the sanctions the u.s. coordinated with allies on march 15th sent a clear message this is not a priority to the united states and not a priority to the western alliance. and i think in terms of setting a precedent this absolutely dsh is the right way to think about it, senator, in my view. certainly other authoritiarian regimes including kilo not just iran who have grander aspirations for territory are observing very closely how the west responds to russian aggression in ukraine. think of china's aspersions in the scl see. vis-a-vis swaun taiwan there is no question in mo i mind that authoritiarian regimes are learning from inaction and lack of resolve. and that sets a dangerous
precedent. >> ambassador herbst. >> i want to enlarge on that a little bit. jim correctly pointed out we were ready in the gulf. but while russia fl my judgment under put isn't the greatest immediate danger to our national security. the longer term danger is china. and in fact so we were very weak with the straits of kerach incident. we have not been as strong as we could be regarding china's island building in the south china sea. so i suspect looking at this as a chinese policymaker might, they see reluctance in confronting russia there in the sea of azov or straits of kearch but iran is a second or third rate power. they've been weak in coming after us the chinese in the south china sea. in that sense 80s bad precedents. >> so ambassador volker do you want to defend our lack of action in -- >> well, i agree with you,
senator that it's sr. very important we have a tempo of activity. i did go to ukraine the end of february and helped pushed for and u.s. the visit much a uss donald ross and the guided missile destroy to odessa and wanted to attract visibility. we have increased the temp u.s. presence in the black sea. and i think significantly we have gone to nato and urged nato establish a strategy for a greater presence in the black sea. but i agree with you that more can and should be done. in should be the a sense of the beginning but should be not be the ep what have we see as possible. >> thank you all very much for your very important testimony today. and your continued action in ukraine. we very much appreciate what you are doing. and, mr. chairman, thank you for holding this important hearing. >> thank you, shaheen. i've just been handed a note i don't have time to ask you alling the questions. i may submit them for the
record. but one of the things i think we'll hold a hearing on this is an eechlgs of sanctions, what are the most effect where wlar not effective? what maybe do more harm than good? that's something we need to evaluate. i would like to explore more in terms of the economy of ukraine, the oligarch control what ukraine needs to do to move past the the era of the oligarchs. and the president might be in perfect positioned that. pu let me end the hearing on a more positive note. the improvement in terms of the ukrainian military, i mean, that came through in your testimony. that's a pretty good thing. they've been able to hold off russian aggression. it would have nice if we could stop and reverse it. but that's in the future for a. and just ukraine's economic potential. it's enormous if they can shed the corruption, abide by the you will rule of law. i mean ukraine can be the the bread basket of europe.
and it has such great potential. it really is about america supporting the ukrainian people, their courage they showed in the mydon, the roets for president poroshenko and now president zhelavskiy. and during the poroshenko inauguration i made the compensate to him you have the opportunity to be ukraine's george washington. >> his reaction was wow, he hadn't thought of that. and i meant if from the standpoint of being the father of his country to enact the very important reforms i think you play it forward, the way he behaved in the transition of power. that might have been the most important thing that georgetown washington did for this nation. but i think the most important thing that president poroshenko did for his nation, a peace fltful transition of power. i'll just reaffirm highway told the lerpgts from the ukrainian parliament, it is so important that they act as patriots and
they come together to really rid their country of the corruption and enact the rule of law so it can raeltz its full potential. i want to thank you all for excellent testimony, written and oral. and this will be continued. because it's so important for america to support the ukrainian people. with that the hearing record will remain open for the submission of statements or questions until the 20th, thursday. this hearing is adjourned. >> thank you.
we take to you orlando, florida, where president trump will kick-off his re-election campaign tonight at the amway center. this is a live look at the scene outside the venue. we expect the speaking portion of the rally to begin around 8 eastern with remarks from vice president mike pence followed by the president. you can see that live tonight on child support agency.
again, you can watch the trump re-election rally in orlando on child support agency at 8:00 p.m. eastern. now the conversation on cannabis policy from today's washington journal. >> you probably know rick steeves as a travel writer. guide boca writer. you may know that he advocates legalization of marijuana why did you get involved in this work. >> i've seen how europe has dealt with its drug problems. ever since the 1990s. i thought it doesn't make sense we lock up people for