The Senate on Thursday night passed a resolution in support of Ukraine and to call for Russia to incur severe penalties it if further invades the neighboring country. Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI | License Photo
Feb. 17 (UPI) -- The U.S. Senate overwhelming passed a bipartisan resolution of support for Ukraine and to punish the Kremlin if it further invades its neighboring nation.
Passed by a voice vote Thursday night, the non-binding "sense of the Senate" resolution reaffirms the United States "unwavering" support for a secure, democratic and independent Ukraine while condemning Russia's "illegal military invasion" of the former Soviet Union nation.
It also calls on President Joe Biden to "impose significant costs" on Russia if it further invades the country or takes actions that undermine the sovereignty of Ukraine.
"By acting in bipartisan fashion today, the United States Senate sent a strong message to Russia and the world that we stand with Ukraine," Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, said in a statement following the vote. "Today's action reaffirms our commitment to our allies in Eastern Europe as Russia continues its malign influence and goal of rebuilding the old Soviet empire."
The resolution was passed as U.S. officials warn that a Russian invasion of Ukraine may occur at any moment.
Earlier Thursday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told the United Nations Security Council that Russia appears to be preparing to invade Ukraine, warning the world is in a "moment of peril."
Some 150,000 Russian troops have been deployed to the Ukrainian border. Russia has said it has removed some troops from the deployment, but U.S. officials have countered that narrative, stating thousands of more troops have joined those at the border in recent days.
On Wednesday, a U.S. official told reporters on the condition of anonymity that they have seen indications that Russia may use a "false pretext" to justify its invasion.
"This is the greatest national security threat that the United States, Europe and our global community have experienced from Russia since the end of the Cold War, so our response must be carefully calculated," Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., said in a statement. "It is not a question of 'if' but 'how' we will response to [Russian President Vladimir] Putin."
The resolution was passed by a Senate that has so far failed to come to an agreement on a sanctions package to prevent Russia from invading Ukraine.
On Tuesday, Senate leaders produced a bipartisan statement of solidarity with the people of Ukraine.
"Should Vladimir Putin further escalate his ongoing assault on Ukraine's sovereignty, Russia must be made to pay a severe price," Senate leaders said. "We are prepared to fully support the immediate imposition of strong, robust and effective sanctions on Russia, as well as tough restrictions and controls on exports to Russia, and we will urge our allies and partners in Europe and around the world to join us."