Congress Told Russia’s Putin is a Growing Threat to the U.S.

July 7, 2020 by Tom Ramstack
U.S. President Donald Trump, left, and Russia's President Vladimir Putin give a joint news conference following their meeting at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, Finland, on July 16, 2018. (Mikhail Metzel/Tass/Abaca Press/TNS)

WASHINGTON – Foreign policy experts at a congressional hearing Tuesday described the Russian government as increasingly troubled under the rule of Vladimir Putin and a growing threat to the United States.

They said recent reports that the Russian military paid Taliban fighters to kill American soldiers in Afghanistan are a sign of a bigger trend.

“I think there’s an escalation here,” said Michael McFaul, former U.S. ambassador to Russia, during a hearing of a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee.

Under Russian President Putin’s “populist” agenda, he perceives the United States as his adversary while he tries to push his influence into foreign countries, McFaul said.

“Anything that weakens us is good for him,” McFaul said.

In the case of Russian bounties for the Taliban to kill Americans, the former ambassador said Putin sought to entangle the United States in a bigger international fiasco.

“He just wants us to be bogged down,” McFaul said.

Russia’s other military moves that angered the U.S. government included annexations of territory within its former republics in Georgia and the Ukraine. Russia also supported Syrian President Bashar Hafez al-Assad during bombings of dissidents that killed numerous civilians.

McFaul cautioned that the Russian government is likely to try again to use the Internet and computer hacking to sway U.S. federal elections in their favor.

“I am really afraid of what they will do on election day,” McFaul said.

He recommended that Congress pass the DETER Act, a bill pending in the House and Senate that would require deporting foreigners if there are reasonable grounds to believe they are trying to interfere with a U.S. election.

He also recommended declassifying some secret information that might compel an international backlash against Russia, similar to reports beginning in 2003 that Iran was developing nuclear weapons.

Lawmakers put some of the blame on the Wagner Group, which claims to be a private Russian military contracting company.

The foreign policy witnesses said the Wagner Group’s close ties to the Russian Army show it carries out military operations for Putin in situations where he does not want to claim responsibility for their actions.

They reportedly include assassinations of Putin’s political adversaries, including three Russian journalists murdered in the Central African Republic in July 2018. They were investigating alleged efforts by the Wagner Group to influence foreign policies of the African country.

The company is believed to be owned by Yevgeny Prigozhin, a businessman with close links to Putin.

Vladimir Kara-Murza, chairman of the public policy group Boris Nemtsov Foundation for Freedom, said Putin’s recent changes to the Russian Constitution that will allow him to remain president until 2036 converted his administration into “a perfect dictatorship.”

As a result, Putin’s popularity among Russians was plummeting, raising the possibility of civil unrest, he said.

“Nobody’s accepting this spectacle Putin has created,” Kara-Murza said.

Rep. William Keating, D-Mass., pledged a broad-based response to what he described as Russian aggression. He gave few details for a plan of action.

“We will act in Congress,” said Keating, chairman of the subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, Energy and the Environment.

“This will be a continuing effort until we get it right,” Keating said.

In The News

Health

Voting

Congress

Voting Rights Overhaul Championed by Democrats
Elections
Voting Rights Overhaul Championed by Democrats
March 2, 2021
by Tom Ramstack

WASHINGTON -- Democrats in Congress want to overhaul the nation’s voting laws with the “For the People Act” (H.R. 1). Their majority in the House makes approval of the bill likely as soon as this week. H.R. 1 would reduce barriers to voting by extending early... Read More

FBI Chief to Face Questions About Extremism, Capitol Riot
Law Enforcement
FBI Chief to Face Questions About Extremism, Capitol Riot

WASHINGTON (AP) — FBI Director Chris Wray is set to testify for the first time since the deadly Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, with lawmakers likely to press him on whether the bureau adequately communicated with other law enforcement agencies about the potential for... Read More

Minimum Wage Hike All But Dead in Big COVID Relief Bill
U.S. Senate
Minimum Wage Hike All But Dead in Big COVID Relief Bill

WASHINGTON (AP) — Democrats' hopes of including a minimum wage increase in their $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill seemed all but dead as the Senate prepared to debate its own version of the House-passed aid package.  Four days after the chamber's parliamentarian said Senate rules forbid... Read More

SolarWinds Cyberattack Prompts Calls for Aggressive Countermeasures
Congress
SolarWinds Cyberattack Prompts Calls for Aggressive Countermeasures
March 1, 2021
by Tom Ramstack

WASHINGTON -- A congressional hearing Friday showed that foreign computer hackers are facing a growing likelihood of counterattack from the United States as a result of the SolarWinds software breach. Lawmakers and computer industry officials agreed the hackers must face consequences to deter them in the... Read More

Democratic Voting Bill Would Make Biggest Changes in Decades
Elections
Democratic Voting Bill Would Make Biggest Changes in Decades

WASHINGTON (AP) — As Congress begins debate this week on sweeping voting and ethics legislation, Democrats and Republicans can agree on one thing: If signed into law, it would usher in the biggest overhaul of U.S. elections law in at least a generation.  House Resolution 1,... Read More

House Passes $1.9 Trillion COVID Relief Package
Congress
House Passes $1.9 Trillion COVID Relief Package
February 27, 2021
by Dan McCue

WASHINGTON – The House passed a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package in the wee hours of Saturday morning, helping President Joe Biden clear the first hurdle in passing an economic stimulus bill that includes $1,400 in direct payments to U.S. households, an extension of federal supplements... Read More

News From The Well
scroll top