US SENATORS PUSH TO CUT OFF PENTAGON CONTRACTS WITH RUSSIA AMID UKRAINE CRISIS

FoxNews on May 17, 2014 reported that a bipartisan group of US lawmakers has introduced legislation banning Pentagon contracts with Russian arms dealer Rosoboronexport amid the crisis in Ukraine.

The proposal by Sens. Dan Coats, R-Ind.; John Cornyn, R-Texas; and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., would forbid the direct or indirect use of U.S. tax dollars to enter contracts or agreements with the company and end all existing contracts.

The Russian Weapons Embargo Act of 2014, introduced, would also prohibit Defense Department contracts with any domestic or foreign company that cooperates with Rosoboronextort to design, manufacture or sell military equipment, according to a news release.

“Given Russia’s hostile actions in Ukraine, business as usual is unacceptable,” Coats said in a statement. “With American credibility and the future of the international order on the line, our actions should reflect that. This specific economic sanction will harm Russian interests in a serious way without damaging America’s economy.”

The Pentagon has a $553.8 million contract with Rosoboronexport to purchase 30 Mi-17 transport helicopters for Afghanistan’s air force, according to The Hill. The DoD has already spent $546.4 million on 33 helicopters.

Blumenthal said recent events in Ukraine underscore why the U.S. should stop doing business with Russia and its state-owned arms dealer.

Meanwhile, in Ukraine, local patrols by steelworkers have forced the pro-Russian insurgents to abandon the government buildings they had seized in Mariupol.

The move is a setback to forces that have established footholds in eastern Ukraine as they demonstrated opposition to the interim Ukrainian government in Kiev.

The U.S. and its allies are working to help ensure that the elections go forward problem-free, and have warned Russia against trying to influence the outcome.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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