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Whitley: Barrasso is right about Russia

Whitley: Barrasso is right about Russia



Before the pandemic devoured everyone’s attention, Congress was considering the Defending American Security from Kremlin Aggression Act, or DASKA. Its intent is to punish Russia for objectionable actions its interference with U.S. elections, annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula, and support of Venezuela’s illegally elected president Nicolas Maduro.

President Trump has tried to maintain a detente with Putin because the wants to leverage our Russian relationships to isolate China, a more powerful and more dangerous foe. However, some members of Congress do not share his geostrategic perspective, and late last year the Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed DASKA. The full Senate will consider it whenever the body returns to regular order.

Our government is right to take a hard stance against the Kremlin, it should do so within a long-term strategy that keeps our country engaged at least to some degree with the country’s business sector, and doesn’t punish U.S. businesses doing work overseas.

In its current form, DASKA does not achieve those goals.

Sanctions should target specific objectives, focus on future behavior, and limit ancillary damage. The bill could even leave Russia in an even more advantageous economic position. It would halt U.S. participation in projects in which a Russian company is engaged anywhere in the world. The Chamber of Commerce warns that these sanctions could end U.S. participation in over 100 projects around the world, forcing companies to abandon these investments while costing our country jobs.

This would needlessly punish our own citizens and undermine popular support for our country’s broader attempts to quarantine Russia, a point that’s been wisely made by Wyoming’s own Sen. Barrasso.

Congress needs to fix DASKA to crack down on the Kremlin while avoiding collateral damage to U.S. companies operating abroad. If these sanctions are too severe, they could lead to a stronger partnership between Russia and China.

JARED WHITELY, Salt Lake City, Utah


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