Shaheen, Romney renew push to establish U.S. strategy toward Black Sea region
WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Europe and Regional Security Cooperation, reintroduced her bipartisan legislation with U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) that would direct the administration to develop a strategy toward the Black Sea region, which has increasingly become a critical inflection point for European and global security amid Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked war in Ukraine. The bipartisan legislation follows Shaheen’s return last month from the Black Sea region, which she has visited numerous times in her capacity as Chair of the SFRC Subcommittee that oversees U.S. policy toward Europe. Shaheen originally wrote the Black Sea Security legislation following testimony from a subcommittee hearing on the Black Sea in October 2021. U.S. Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Angus King (I-ME), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and John Cornyn (R-TX) are all original cosponsors of the bill.
“As Vladimir Putin wages war in Ukraine, he has already proven his ambitions to extend Russia’s malign influence to the Black Sea region,” said Senator Shaheen. “I’ve met with our partners in the region and they echo the importance of developing a U.S. strategy toward the Black Sea so we can strengthen our alliances and enhance economic relations that are pivotal to staving off an increasingly belligerent Putin. As the U.S. continues to aid our Ukrainian partners on the frontlines, we need to look ahead and make investments in vulnerable areas where Russia is actively sowing discord and hoping to turn to next. Our bipartisan bill would deliver that strategy and strengthen the relationships in the region that we need to defend our values and our security.”
“Russia’s recent provocation against a U.S. drone in the Black Sea underscores the need for a revamped strategy in the Black Sea region. We cannot leave it up to Putin–who chose to invade Ukraine and pursue other forms of aggression in the region–to define the rules of the Black Sea. It’s critical that the Biden Administration develops a robust Black Sea strategy to strengthen the coordination between the U.S., NATO, and our Black Sea partners,” said Senator Romney.
Specifically, the Shaheen-Romney legislation would do the following:
· Underscore the importance of the Black Sea region for US national security, especially in light of Russia’s further unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.
· Call for a more robust foreign policy toward the Black Sea region, including increased advocacy between the U.S., NATO and EU, and bolster economic ties between the U.S. and the Black Sea region.
· 180 days following passage of legislation, require an interagency strategy to increase military assistance and coordination with NATO and the EU, deepen economic ties, strengthen democracy and economic security and enhance security assistance with Black Sea countries.
Shaheen has been very engaged on U.S. policy toward the Black Sea region for years, stemming back to her participation as an election monitor in Georgia with Senator Jim Risch (R-ID) in 2012. Senator Shaheen was successful in securing limited language in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 government funding bill and the FY2023 national defense bill to underscore the importance of the Black Sea region and to require a strategy from the Department of State toward the Black Sea region. She’s been vocal in the U.S. Senate about the urgency of prioritizing the region following Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked further invasion of Ukraine. Shortly before Putin’s invasion, Shaheen and former U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) led a bipartisan delegation to Ukraine, where they met with President Zelenskyy and members of his administration. Before the Shaheen-Portman congressional delegation visit in January 2022, Shaheen led a bipartisan group of lawmakers to Eastern Europe, including Georgia and Ukraine, in June 2021. As co-chair of the Senate NATO Observer Group, which she re-started with Senator Tillis in 2018, Shaheen has led bipartisan efforts in the Senate in support of the transatlantic Alliance and as Finland and Sweden seek accession into NATO.