Senate Democrats want Russia to face consequences if it offers bounties to the Taliban for attacks on any U.S. or allied troops stationed in Afghanistan, The Hill reports.
A group of lawmakers introduced a bill Thursday that would require President Donald Trump to impose sanctions on any Russian official or entity that is found to be involved in offering bounties to the Taliban.
The bill would require Trump to certify if Moscow “offered, ordered, directed, or was otherwise responsible for bounties” for the killing of coalition troops. If Trump does, he must then impose sanctions on President Vladimir Putin “or any person acting for or on behalf of him” as well as any Russian government, defense or intelligence official involved in the efforts, according to the bill.
In addition to requiring sanctions for bounties, the bill requires Trump to issue penalties to “persons that facilitate illicit and corrupt activities on behalf of President Putin, including oligarchs, political figures, and their family members.”
The group of lawmakers backing the legislation include ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Sen. Bob Menendez and Sens. Jeanne Shaheen, Dick Durbin, Richard Blumenthal, Jeff Merkley, and Tammy Duckworth.
They said they wanted to introduce the bill in response to the “Trump administration’s failure” to respond to reports of attempts from Moscow to pay militants in Afghanistan to kill coalition troops stationed there, according to a press release.
“As we continue to learn the lengths that President Trump is willing to go to downplay Putin’s aggressions against our nation, we are once again forced to mandate what should be common sense: The U.S. government will always stand up for our service members and against any foreign actor who seeks to harm them,” Menendez said in a statement introducing the legislation. “Incredible that we have reached this point – but we actually need laws that force the President of the United States to protect American lives and our interests.”
The bill would also set aside $50 million per year in rewards for people who provide information on Russian bounties against troops. It would also allocate $30 million a year for the State Department’s Global Engagement Center’s efforts to counter Russian influence in South and Central Asia.
“Congress has an obligation to step in and act. Putin is emboldened by President Trump’s capitulation and is increasing his aggressive behavior which includes putting bounties on American troops and reckless behavior against our forces on land, water and sea. The lives of American service members are at stake — I urge Senators on both sides of the aisle to join us in protecting our service members and sending a strong message to Putin,” Shaheen said in a statement.
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