WASHINGTON—Representative Eliot L. Engel, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today urged President Trump not to lift sanctions on Russia. In a letter to the President, Rep. Engel voiced his concerns about comments from White House counselor Kellyanne Conway that lifting sanctions was “under consideration” before the President’s Saturday call with Vladimir Putin.
“Vladimir Putin means our country harm, and his actions and aggression have destabilized Europe. Until he changes his behavior, lifting sanctions on him is unthinkable,” said Rep. Engel. “In fact, we should be doing more. I recently introduced a bill to punish foreign interference in our elections, which I hope House leaders will act quickly on.
Representative Engel continued, “Last year, the House unanimously passed my bill that would make Crimea-related sanctions on Russia permanent until Putin changes course. Now, as we face the possibility of a new Administration unduly lifting those sanctions, it may be critical for Congress to play its role and hold Putin accountable. If it becomes necessary, I hope my colleagues on the other side will put country before party and take a strong stand against the threat Russia poses to our security and global stability.”
Text of Rep. Engel’s letter to President Trump follows and can be found here.
Dear Mr. President:
This morning, your advisor Kellyanne Conway said in an interview that lifting sanctions on Russia is "under consideration" as you prepare to speak with President Putin on Saturday. Such an action would be a catastrophic misstep. I strongly urge you not to take any action that would reduce pressure on Russia until Mr. Putin ceases his destabilizing policies of sowing violence and chaos beyond Russia's borders.
Mr. Putin's hostile actions and rhetoric risk the decades of American efforts to secure a Europe that is whole, free, and at peace. His aggression has cost tens of thousands of lives and brought war to Europe. Our sanctions regime may not have reversed Russia's gains, but it has imposed a price upon the Kremlin’s military advance toward our allies in Europe. And our resolve in confronting this threat has reassured our largest trading partners on the Continent. Premature sanctions relief on Russia would signal a dangerous and provocative weakness on our part and jeopardize other sanctions programs that the United States uses to promote our national interests.
Congress has advanced stronger measures to deter Russia's aggression and strengthen the position of the United States while keeping the door open to cooperation where advisable or necessary. Yet, until Russia halts its aggression and reverses its illegal occupation, I strongly urge you to maintain American sanctions on Russia.
ELIOT L. ENGEL