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Congressman Mike Rogers: Congress Standing Up to Russian Aggression

Mike Rogers - Basic 2With the Obama Administration continuing to sit on its hands while Russian President Vladimir Putin sends tanks into Eastern Europe, East Alabama Congressman Mike Rogers, Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee’s Subcommittee on Strategic Forces, said the House passed his amendment last night to counter Russia’s willful violations of weapons treaties.

“The Obama Administration refuses to stand up to Russian treaty violations, and an emboldened Vladimir Putin sees the United States is turning a blind eye across the board to his aggressive actions.  President Obama’s unwillingness to stand up to Russia has made many of our arms treaties meaningless, and it continues a disturbing pattern of selective enforcement of laws by this Administration. My amendment sends the clear signal that Congress will not stand by while Russia tries to expand its territory or influence at the expense of our security or that of our allies,” Rogers said.

The amendment authored by Rogers denies any funding in the Defense Appropriations Act for fiscal year 2015 for the implementation of what’s known as the Open Skies treaty. When signed by the United States and Russia in 1992, the treaty allowed each country to fly approved monitoring aircraft over each other’s nuclear weapons sites. The objective by participating nations, including Ukraine, was to promote transparency and trust in each nation’s military activities.

Recently, however, the Obama Administration allowed Russia to upgrade its Open Skies aircraft in ways that will directly threaten U.S. national security, a move Rogers strongly opposes. Rogers believes the U.S. must do more to block Russian aggression, and says his amendment does precisely that. It passed last night on voice vote. Rogers’ Floor statement is below from last night’s debate.

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Mr. Chairman, I rise today to urge members to support my amendment to this bill and the underlying bill from my friend from New Jersey.

I regret that my amendment today is necessary.

It deals with an arcane issue: the Treaty on Open Skies.

In the FY15 National Defense Authorization Act, H.R. 4435, we included a bipartisan provision to require certification of the national security implications for Russian Federation proposals to implement new sensors on their Open Skies Aircraft.

These aircraft are allowed to fly over the U.S. to conduct surveillance flights.

They are not supposed to supplement Russian intelligence collection on the United States.

Yet, not long after this body passed the NDAA on a 325 to 98 vote, the Administration opted to ignore this body’s concerns, ignore the concerns of a bipartisan group of Senators on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and approve a Russian request to improve its sensor platform.

The Administration did this without regard to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and illegal seizure of Crimea.

The Administration did this without regard for Russia’s violation of the INF treaty.

The Administration did this without regard to Russia’s compliance failings in the New START treaty.

The Administration did this without regard to the fact that Russia is cheating on the Open Skies treaty itself – just look at the State Department website.

And the Administration did this without regard to the concerns of the Department of Defense and other government agencies.

How did Russia respond to this decision by the Administration to accede to Putin’s wishes?

The New York Times, this past weekend answered that question:

“Rebels also claim to have shot down a Ukrainian AN-30 surveillance plane…on June 6, 2014.  The June 6 episode was of particular concern because it involved the destruction of one of the two planes that Ukraine used to monitor the “Open Skies” treaty.

Mr. Chairman, when will we learn that we cannot respond to Russian aggression with concession?

Putin responded, as he always does, by taking our concession and having his shock troops in Ukraine shoot down this airplane.

We cannot continue like this.

We cannot continue to ignore Russian cheating when it comes to our treaties.

We cannot continue to allow Russia to misuse arms control treaties, like the Open Skies treaty.

We cannot continue to allow Russia to foment violence on NATO’s borders.

We cannot continue to ignore the concerns of our military and other national security agencies just to make Russia feel good.

I urge support for my amendment to send a message to Russia and to safeguard our national security.

I reserve the balance of my time.

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