Putin, Party of One: Obama 'Leads' Ousting from G-8, But Russia Finds New Friends
Russia, meanwhile, found a new group of old friends to hang out with: BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa). The foreign ministers of this bloc met on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague today, and apparently told Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov that they understood why Russia took Crimea.
"As far as a meeting of the BRICS foreign ministers is concerned, we have heard the understanding of the current situation and of historic aspects of the whole situation here in The Hague, and we are thankful to our partners for this," Lavrov said at a press conference.
BRICS issued a statement attempting to shame Australia for considering restrictions on Putin's participation at the G-20 summit. "The Ministers noted with concern the recent media statement on the forthcoming G20 Summit to be held in Brisbane in November 2014. The custodianship of the G20 belongs to all member-states equally and no one member-state can unilaterally determine its nature and character," the BRICS said in a statement.
A Ukraine aid package cleared a procedural vote in the Senate today by a vote of 78-17. All of the "no" votes came from Republicans.
The bill authorizes $1 billion in loan guarantees to help stabilize Ukraine’s economy and authorizes stronger punitive sanctions. Opponents of the legislation have singled out its provision to appropriate funds for an increase in the U.S. quota in the IMF.
Sponsor and Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) said on the Senate floor that the bill "provides needed reforms to the United States' participation in the International Monetary Fund, which would allow the United States to leverage significant support from the IMF for Ukraine today and for similar unforeseen crises in the future."
“It’s the IMF that is leading the effort to stabilize Ukraine’s fragile economy, an essential task if there is to be any chance of reaching a peaceful political solution to the standoff with Russia. Congressional ratification of the 2010 IMF reforms would increase IMF emergency funding to Ukraine by up to 60%, and provide an additional $6 billion for longer-term support, setting an important marker for other donors such as the EU and World Bank," Menendez said.
“Failure to approve the reforms, on the other hand, would undermine both the IMF and the international standing of the United States. Some countries are happy to see U.S. global influence diminish. Failing to approve the reforms weakens the United States and emboldens our competitors."
House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) said this IMF reform would be undertaken at the expense of American troops.
“You don’t need an advanced degree in international relations to understand that the trillion dollars this president has cut from our military has emboldened international bullies like Vladimir Putin," McKeon said earlier this month as the bill was in Menendez's committee. "Now, as we are once again reminded why we need a strong military, Senate Democrats want to further raid the very accounts that make our military ready to meet a crisis."
"Senator Menendez’s bill to fund reforms at the IMF on the backs of our troops is just looney and I will strongly oppose it if it comes to the House. If the Senate is serious about protecting Ukraine, they should work with the House to pass something that can be adopted quickly by both chambers."