If there was any doubt that the war hawks in Congress are itching to take flight over Moscow, they need only page through Senator Bob Corker’s Russian Aggression Prevention Act of 2014 (S.2277). Submitted to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations just as the number of civilian casualties and refugees in eastern Ukraine began to tick ever higher in mid-May, the bill is, in essence, a GOP wish list not only for their new friends in Kiev but for both NATO and the entire former Soviet space as well.
Some of the bill’s proposed measures are fairly anodyne, if only because they are so completely unrealistic. One section seeks to promote ‘Strengthened US-German Cooperation on Global and European Security Issues’ and would allocate $5 million annually to go towards a US-German Security Working Group. I would estimate that, given the continued revelations of US intelligence activities in Germany that there’s exactly zero-appetite for a ‘working group’ of this nature in Berlin at the present time.
A number of the bill’s sections are taken up with satiating the depressingly familiar Congressional mania for democracy promotion abroad. The State Department is directed to increase its efforts “directly or through nongovernmental organizations” to improve democracy and civil society in Russia. This provision would seem, given the fact that the Russian government expelled the USAID Mission in the latter half of 2012, to be little more than a ploy with which to aggravate Vladimir Putin than a serious attempt to spread “our values”. Worse, it never seems to occur to our political establishment that funding pro-democracy organizations during times of heightened US-Russia tensions may put the very organizations they wish to assist in danger given the Foreign Agents registration law that was passed by the Duma last year. Lest you think the bill would confine its “pro-democracy” agenda to Russia, several sections later we are informed that the State Department would be directed to expand their crusade to “the countries of the former Soviet Union” at the cost of $25 million annually over the next three years.
As counterproductive as the aforementioned proposals would be; the majority of the act is taken up with responding to the current crisis in Ukraine, and in the worst possible way. It would impose “immediate new sanctions” which would target major Russian banks, energy companies and arms manufacturers, along with their “Russian-owned subsidiaries and senior Russian executives.” That sanctions may have the opposite of their intended effect seems to have dawned on even some of the shriller members of Washington’s pundit class, but Congress, if this bill is anything to go by, is sticking to what it thinks it knows.