Q: Why should Iowans be concerned about the war in Ukraine?
A: Russian President Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked invasion of a sovereign nation opens a dangerous can of worms on the European continent and around the world. His military assault unravels decades of signed peace agreements following the Cold War and puts at risk the security and stability that American sons and daughters fought and died for on the battlefields during World War II. What’s more, despots around the world are watching to see how the Free World reacts. China, North Korea and Iran will take their cues, accordingly. Make no mistake. Putin is on an ego trip to resurrect the Soviet/Russian empire. His plot is killing thousands of innocent civilians and scattering hundreds of thousands of refugees across Europe. All because of his effort to assert a regime change in a freely elected government of a sovereign neighboring state. I condemn Putin and his military regime for the appalling use of indiscriminate deadly force against the people of Ukraine and am backing the investigation into war crimes and human rights abuses to hold them accountable for the brutality and aggression in Ukraine and elsewhere. His authoritarian overreach matters to America and our allies around the world who value freedom, independence and democracy. If you give tin horn dictators an inch, they will try to take a mile. Don’t forget, Russia invaded and occupied parts of the Republic of Georgia in 2008. After some stern words, the world forgot and the Obama administration announced a “reset” in relations involving unilateral goodwill gestures. Then, Russia annexed Crimea in 2014 and set its sights on Ukraine that same year with the seizure of territory in eastern Ukraine using Russian soldiers without insignias and Russian-backed fighters on the ground. In addition to the humanitarian crisis, the Russian invasion exposes the clear and present jeopardy of energy dependence to the U.S. economy and national security. The United States imports close to 700,000 barrels of oil a day from Russia. Sanctions on Russian oil imports pushed prices above $100/barrel. Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is a wake-up call to the world and a sobering reminder to the United States. Energy security is national security. Higher energy prices pack a punch to the economy, hammering the pocketbooks of Iowa families filling up their gas tanks and putting food on the table and driving up the input costs for Iowa farmers working to feed America.
Q: What measures are you backing to support Ukraine and stop Putin?
A: I’m working in the U.S. Senate to hammer Putin where it hurts, his pocketbook. First, I’m co-sponsoring a bill that would reverse President Biden’s shutdown of the U.S. energy sector and return American energy to full production. Reclaiming America’s energy independence would strengthen our foreign policy leverage in the world and help lower energy costs for American families. The Biden administration has declared a war on domestic fuel production that cost Americans at the pump and pumped up Putin’s war chest in the process. America needs to stop pussyfooting around with the likes of Putin and restore U.S. energy independence. I’m also pushing a bill that would ban purchases of Russian oil. Russia’s oil and gas industry is the Kremlin’s bread and butter. There’s no good reason we should be supporting any sector of Russia’s economy. That’s why I’ve added my support to a bill that would make American oil companies sever ties with state-owned oil and gas companies, as many already have. The crisis unfolding in Ukraine underscores how wrong President Biden’s energy policies were since the day he took office. Stopping the Keystone XL pipeline, shutting down domestic oil exploration, stopping oil leases on public lands and drying up investment by U.S. fossil fuel companies not only contributed to rising gas prices, it fostered greater dependency on foreign sources of energy, including Russia. The United States must stop emboldening Putin’s leadership and lining the coffers of his treasury. I’ve also joined the growing chorus of voices to remove Russia from the United Nations Security Council and urged U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen to block Russian access to any additional financing through the International Monetary Fund (IMF). As a decades-long champion for U.S. energy independence, I’ve re-introduced my bipartisan bill to stop the anti-competitive behavior from OPEC, the foreign oil cartel that colludes to raise the price of oil. My No Oil Producing and Exporting Cartels (NOPEC) Act would allow the Department of Justice to hold OPEC accountable for artificially inflated gas prices. I’m also continuing my crusade for America’s homegrown renewable energy that displaces foreign oil and drives down gas prices. I’m pushing for Congress to take action that would allow year-round sales of E15 in time for the busy travel season this summer. President Biden told Americans he wants to “use every tool at our disposal” to help lower gas prices. He can join my work to get legislation expanding year-round E-15 ethanol to his desk and then sign it into law.
On the afternoon of March 4, Senator Grassley will meet with a Ukrainian small business owner in Chariton, Iowa who runs Vector Foods to discuss the war in Ukraine and efforts to support Ukrainians. Iowans who would like to contribute to humanitarian assistance relief may find information through USAID.