ICYMI: Murkowski Addresses Ukraine-Russia Border Crisis

Draws Attention to Potential Impacts in the Arctic

As the Senate works on a sanctions package to deter Russia from invading Ukraine, including imposing severe punishments in the event an invasion is carried out, U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) yesterday spoke on the Senate floor about additional steps the Senate should take to address the situation. In her address, she spoke to aspects of the crisis that have received less attention so far, including how an invasion could destabilize the Arctic, how impacts of poor energy policy in the U.S. strengthens Russia’s hand, and the need to explore sanctions on all sectors of the Russian economy that the U.S. can influence, such as restricting imports of Russian seafood.

Later in the day Senator Jim Risch (R-ID), Ranking Member of the Foreign Relations Committee, introduced the Never Yielding Europe’s Territory (NYET) Act with Senator Murkowski as an original cosponsor. The NYET Act, a Russia sanctions package, includes a provision based on standalone legislation introduced last week by Senators Dan Sullivan (R-AK) and Murkowski to ban Russia seafood imports into the United States. Russia has banned U.S. seafood imports since 2014. 

Floor Speech Russia Ukraine

Click here for video of Senator Murkowski’s floor statement. 


Russia’s Aggression

  • “It is impossible not to be rattled by what we are seeing and worried by where it could lead. But we must turn our concerns into resolve. And that resolve must lead to action.”
  • “As a Senator for Alaska, we are all too familiar with Russia’s aggressive tactics. They routinely fly near our airspace and sail through our waters, testing our defenses and reactions. In August 2020, a flotilla of Russian warships and military aircraft encroached into our Exclusive Economic Zone in the Bering Sea, where they repeatedly harassed our fishermen, forcing them to leave the waters from which their livelihood flows. The fishermen were shocked, literally leaving millions of dollars on the line. Provocative actions like these are disturbing and alarming.”
  • “There is a lot to understand about the crisis in Ukraine. How Russia is undermining the international order and disrupting well-established global norms. How the potential for an invasion threatens not just Ukraine, but European and global security. How an invasion could lead to catastrophic escalation and enormous loss of life. How this situation impacts the United States whether we want to involve ourselves or not. And how a diplomatic solution still exists, if Russia chooses such a path.”

Sanctions Bill

  • “I know that many in this chamber are actively working on what they have described as the “mother of all sanctions packages.” The bipartisan goal is to deter Russia from invading Ukraine, but also to impose severe sanctions if that happens, and I know that the joint effort has perhaps stalled out right now, but hopefully the two sides and the White House will come together to finalize it. I believe it is an imperative that we have a united front on this matter. A united Congress on the matter of sanctions, I think, is a powerful message in and of itself.”

Energy Implications

  • “When it comes to energy, we don’t need our dollars to be financing Russia’s territorial aggressions, especially when we have everything we need right here at home.”  
  • “Europe’s energy policies have only served to weaken their ability to respond to Russia’s aggression. This is a crisis for many countries in Europe, but a timely warning for the United States.”
  • “Europe imports about 40 percent of its natural gas and 27 percent of its oil from Russia.  The Nord Stream 2 pipeline would only add to that total, while sidelining Ukraine as a key transit point. And therein lies the problem: Europe is already heavily dependent on Russia for energy, but doubling down. Their needs are particularly acute in the depths of winter, and that has undermined some European nations’ willingness to respond to Russian aggression.”
  • “I would suggest the Biden administration is putting us on a similar path when it comes to our oil and gas. If they continue to shut down domestic resource production, we can’t magically shift to renewables overnight – we will become more dependent on others for our supply.” 
  • “If there was ever a moment for energy realism, it is right now. The Biden administration and many here in Congress need to recognize the immense benefits of American resource production here at home and for the rest of the world. And they need to see clearly the immense consequences of refusing to allow those activities to proceed.”

Arctic Implications

  • “My concern today is for the ripple effects an invasion could have, on the Arctic. I am worried that it will derail much of what we’ve been able to accomplish in the region and make it hard if not impossible for the United States to trust and work with Russia in the region.”  
  • “With all the ongoing diplomatic discussions between the U.S. and Russia, playing out in places like Geneva and Paris, the first time this administration discussed the topic of troop movements on the Ukrainian border with Russia in person was on the sidelines of the Arctic Council ministerial in May. There are very few places in the world that a meeting like this would be politically palatable for either country. Yet for decades, the Arctic has provided a place for the U.S. and Russia to convene even when we have our differences.”
  • “I know that the Arctic is not top of mind for most on Capitol Hill. It took us nearly a decade to secure funding for a new icebreaker, which won’t be put to sea for years—all while Russia launches a new one at least once a year. I want the Foreign Relations and Armed Services Committees to pay more attention to the Arctic, and to look to the region as both a strategic asset and a diplomatic tool. We often talk about how valuable the region is, but it can be useful only if we use it. And I’m afraid we too often neglect its importance. It’s time we change that.”     

Restricting Imports of Russian Seafood

  • “Most Americans don’t know that Russia responded to U.S. sanctions imposed after their annexation of Crimea by banning U.S. seafood imports, among other goods. It is unfair that Russia has unlimited access to sell its seafood in the United States while America’s fishermen and seafood processors – especially Alaskans - have no access to markets in Russia. The embargo needs to end or we need to incorporate reciprocal measures.”