EXCLUSIVE: House conservatives released a new memo in advance of President Biden‘s Wednesday summit with Vladimir Putin calling out the Democrat’s “tough words but weak actions” and offering advice on policies that could actually counter Russian aggression.
In a new memo obtained by Fox News, the Republican Study Committee (RSC) – the largest group of House conservatives – outlined five measures that Biden could enact. His face-to-face meeting with Putin in Geneva comes after crippling Russian-originated cyber ransomware attacks, and Republicans say Biden needs to be doing more.
“In the run-up to the summit, President Biden has attempted to escape criticism through tough talk to cover his lack of action,” the RSC memo circulated Tuesday said. “While President Trump spoke softly but carried a big stick, President Biden seems to be defined by the approach of ‘speak loudly, but carry a twig.’ It is a fantasy to expect that Putin would change his behavior without the imposition of significant costs on his regime.”
The RSC is led by Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind.
Here are the five things the RSC says Biden should be doing:
1) Sanction Nord Stream 2 – The White House waived sanctions against the German company overseeing the prospective Russian-built Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline running under the Baltic Sea to Germany. That project could potentially allow Moscow to bypass Ukraine, Poland and other countries in Eastern and Central Europe that collect transit fees on the energy. Biden should reverse that decision and implement the bipartisan congressionally mandated sanctions in the Protecting Europe’s Energy Security Clarification Act (PEESCA), the memo says.
2) Maintain Trump-era defense budgets – The RSC says countering Russia means increasing defense spending, whereas Biden’s Pentagon budget request increases spending by a modest 2% and doesn’t keep pace with inflation.
3) Sanction the Navalny list – Detained Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny identified a list of Putin cronies that America should sanction. The Biden administration should show it is serious about human rights by imposing sanctions on those individuals who meet the criteria “for severe human rights abuses or significant corruption,” the memo says.
4) Beef up sanctions on Russia – Biden could impose even more sanctions on Russia and could seek to expel Russian banks from the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications (SWIFT) international financial network. “Sanctions on Russia have still not been utilized to their fullest extent,” the RSC memo states.
5) Designate Russia a State Sponsor of Terrorism – The RSC says Russia meets this terror standard through its “support of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, the Taliban, the Russian Imperial Movement, and its direct cooperation with Hezbollah in Syria.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.