Slotkin meets with European leaders to discuss security amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

By: - December 20, 2022 4:56 am

Rep. Elissa Slotkin at a town hall in East Lansing, Oct. 2, 2019 | Anna Liz Nichols

U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Lansing) traveled Friday to Norway and Finland to meet with the country’s defense leaders and discuss European security as Russia continues invading Ukraine. 

Slotkin and Reps. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.), Chrissy Houlahan (D-Pa.), Mikie Sherrill (D-N.J.) and Mark Green (R-Tenn.) will meet with senior leaders from both countries before returning home later this week to vote on the omnibus government funding bill. 

The congressional delegation’s discussions with Finland and Norway come in the wake of the approval of the annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), or H.R. 7776 which sets the yearly budget for the U.S. Department of Defense. The package includes two provisions introduced by Slotkin that would strengthen sanctions against Russia and require an investigation to determine if the Chinese government is assisting Russia in evading sanctions. 

The Stop Russian Gold Act — which was introduced in the House by Slotkin — closes loopholes in existing sanctions on Russia by imposing secondary sanctions on anyone transporting or carrying out business with gold from Russia’s central bank, or who are selling gold physically or electronically in Russia. The provision also instructs the U.S. Department of Treasury to develop clear compliance guidelines for U.S. citizens to ensure Americans can avoid unknowingly investing or trading in Russian gold.

Slotkin also cosponsored the DICTATOR Act, which would require the U.S. Secretary of State and other U.S. Officials to submit a report and brief to Congress on whether the Chinese government or associated entities have helped Russia evade sanctions. It also directs the U.S. Department of State to develop a strategy to block future efforts from China or other associated entities from illegally aiding Russia in evading sanctions. 

Demonstrators gathered at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., on Saturday, March 27, 2022, as part of a national day of action. They called for more efforts by the United States and other nations globally to stop the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which began over a month ago. (Photo by Marisa Demarco / Source New Mexico)

The National Defense Authorization Act also includes provisions prioritizing the development of hypersonic weapons, artificial intelligence, 5G technology, and quantum computing alongside efforts to modernize military ships, aircrafts and vehicles as well as efforts to improve the lives of servicemembers and their families. 

In addition to the provisions included in the National Defense Authorization Act, Slotkin also supported an effort to streamline shipments of military equipment and munitions to Ukraine. 

Alongside meeting with representatives from the U.S., Finland and its neighboring country Sweden are currently awaiting approval from Turkey and Hungary, the final two member nations needed to approve their bid to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). 

Following both countries’ application to join the treaty organization in July, the U.S. House approved a resolution supporting Finland and Sweden’s bid to join NATO, with the Senate voting 95-1 on Aug. 3 to approve their membership. All 30 member nations have to give their approval for the countries to join.

As Sweden awaits approval for its membership in NATO, the country is set to assume the presidency of the European Union (EU) in January. According to the Atlantic Council, a nonprofit organization which examines international political, economic and security issues, Sweden’s agenda for the EU will focus on Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, improving climate efforts and trade with the U.S., and strengthening the EU’s ability to contend with China, including preparations for global challenges that may arise from China’s relationship with Russia. 

In the National Security Strategy plan released in October, President Joe Biden reiterated the country’s support for Ukraine and commitment to defending its allies in NATO and working with them to prevent Russia from causing further harm to European security, democracy and institutions.

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Kyle Davidson
Kyle Davidson

Kyle Davidson was a reporting intern for the Michigan Advance. A recent MSU graduate, Kyle studied journalism and political science. He has reported on community events, breaking news, state policy, and the environment for outlets including the Lansing State Journal, the Detroit Free Press and Capital News Service.