Menendez: Noose Tightening Around Putin’s Neck

HOBOKEN – Bob Menendez is confident things are going awry for the “butcher of Moscow.”

He said the “mother of all sanctions” is having a direct impact on the Russian economy and that a symbolic noose around Vladimir Putin’s neck is getting tighter and tighter.

But that’s not enough. “As long as Ukrainians are dying at the hands of this butcher,” Menendez said more must be done. He said he hopes the Senate this week will end Russia’s “most favored nation” trade status. The House did that last week.

Menendez, the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was in the Mile Square City Monday to highlight $250,000 of federal money coming to the city for electric vehicle charging stations. Gas has risen to more than $4 a gallon, partly because of the Russian invasion.

Electric vehicles are a big part of a long-term strategy to move away from fossil fuel. One, in fact, was being charged up in front of the senator as he spoke.

Menendez acknowledged that everyone can’t just buy an electric car tomorrow. So, he is also talking about releasing more oil from the nation’s reserves and examining substantial profits being reaped by what Menendez called “Big Oil?”

Mayor Ravi S. Bhalla said the city now has five public charging stations and that the federal aid will increase that to 11. The mayor said progress is already being made, noting that since city charging stations opened last summer, they have been used more than 2,300 times. He estimated that this eliminated using more than 3,100 gallons of gas.

Bhalla said combating a changing climate is a must for Hoboken, which often floods.

And if anyone needed a reminder, the Hudson was just two blocks to the east of the press conference, which was held on First Street just off Washington Street. Look in the other direction and the blue and yellow flag of Ukraine joined the American flag outside City Hall. So symbolism all around.

Menendez said the Biden Administration has largely followed the game plan laid out by those calling for harsh sanctions. The senator said it’s noteworthy that the economic condemnation of Russia has been supported by not just the European community, but by the entire world, including Australia, Japan and Canada.

Beyond that, he said the United States has sent Ukraine billions of dollars worth of lethal military and humanitarian aid.

Looking at recent history, Menendez said that the “West made a mistake” when it essentially ignored Russia’s invasion of Georgia in 2008 and its taking of Crimea in 2014. He speculated that Putin assumed – wrongly – that the west would be equally submissive this time around.

As it turned out, Menendez said Putin made a “strategic blunder, one that’s going to cost him and Russia enormously.”

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