Yesterday the Senate Foreign Relations Committee had a hearing on US policy in Ukraine. The hearing exposes deep divisions both in strategy and perspective. Senators grilled Assistant Secretary, European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia Evelyn Farkas and Assistant Secretary, Terrorist Financing, Department of the Treasury Daniel Glaser as to why the US policy in Ukraine seemed not to be working.
The most aggressive questioner was Senator John McCain who exposed that the US does not have firm commitments from the EU on more sanctions and the actual triggers for those sanctions are non-existent. Determining when sanctions will be enacted is arbitrary making their ability to act as a deterrent more difficult. No more red lines?
Republican and Democratic Senators both expressed skepticism that more sanctions would have any effect anyway. Senator Ron Johnson, upset that weapons were not being sent in scoffed “We’re threatening sectoral sanctions, whatever that means.” Senator Corker, the ranking Republican member, also slammed the sanctions as ineffective and said the US policy was embarrassingly ineffective. His sentiment was echoed by Chairman Menendez who also endorsed sending weapons.
Then came an amazing moment. Senator Chris Murphy straight up admitted what many have been saying all along “Ukraine is not that important to us.” Murphy admitted this in the context of how much Russia would clearly care about a neighboring state versus the US which has no obvious interest whatsoever. The entire involvement of the US in Ukraine is without merit but to have a member of Congress admit so in a hearing is something else.
Senator Corker concluded by slamming the panel “What we’re seeing today is we have no strategy, have no policy.”