(House of Representatives - February 15, 2017)

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[Congressional Record Volume 163, Number 27 (Wednesday, February 15, 2017)]
[Page H1189]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []

                       RUSSIA'S AGGRESSIVE INTENT

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The Chair recognizes the gentleman from 
Connecticut (Mr. Courtney) for 5 minutes.
  Mr. COURTNEY. Mr. Speaker, as we are sitting here in this Chamber, 
right now off the coast of Groton, Connecticut, 30 miles from the 
Groton Navy Sub Base, which is the oldest submarine base in America, 
there is a Russian spy ship, the Viktor Leonov, that is loitering--as 
was reported this morning from the Navy and news sources--off the 
coast, again, within the bare minimum of international waters.
  I can attest to the fact that--having just flown down from 
Connecticut a few days ago--anyone who would loiter off the coast of 
Connecticut is not doing it because of the great climate and weather. 
It is freezing weather out there. They are doing it, obviously, with 
aggressive intent, to say the least.
  Mr. Speaker, this is part of a pattern that is going on right now not 
just off the East Coast of the U.S., but also overseas. The USS Porter, 
which is a Navy missile ship, was buzzed by military aircraft from 
Russia on February 10. They came within 200 yards of the ship. Again, 
because we have such incredibly competent and professional leadership 
that captain those vessels, an incident was avoided.
  However, the danger of jet aircraft moving within 200 yards of a U.S. 
naval ship obviously is just common sense to anyone how high risk that 
is in terms of creating an incident that could have huge ramifications.
  In addition to that, the news reported again just the last couple of 
days or so that the Russian military is now deploying intermediate 
medium-range nuclear warheads in different places throughout Western 
Russia, near Eastern Europe. Again, this is clearly in violation of 
treaties that go back decades.
  As General Breedlove, who was the commander of NATO and the European 
Command who just stepped down, said that this new effort really just 
cannot go unanswered. It completely destabilizes the balance of power 
in that theater of the world.
  Again, the folks in Connecticut woke up this morning with that news 
about the spy ship off the coast. As you can imagine, it has created a 
lot of consternation and questions.
  Once again, I would reiterate that I have total confidence in our 
Navy leadership both at the Groton Navy base and here in Washington 
that they will react to this with total vigilance and professional 
competence to make sure that, again, our security is protected.
  But I think it is time now for all of us in Washington, D.C., to 
understand that Vladimir Putin, during the 5 years that he has been in 
power, again, has taken a posture that is completely destabilizing any 
sort of global system of peace and security.
  This new administration, which clearly has an infatuation with 
Putin--and this goes back during the campaign with President Trump 
talking on the campaign trail about his high regard for Putin's 
leadership--needs to basically move on and recognize that this is an 
emerging threat and that we have to take all necessary steps to respond 
to it both in the short-term and, obviously, as we take up defense 
policy and defense budgets, which is that the resurgence of the Russian 
Navy is a game-changer in terms of the demands on our fleet.
  That is something that, again, on the Seapower and Projection Forces 
Subcommittee, which I am the ranking member, we are working hard in 
terms of implementing the Obama administration's boost to Navy 
shipbuilding and increasing the fleet size.
  Again, we need to really, as I said, just disavow ourselves of any 
naive assumptions that somehow the Putin government is somehow 
something that we can trust, and shows any regard for international 
norms or international law.
  Again, to the folks back home, I want you to know that we are 
monitoring this situation with our Navy team down here in Washington 
and I have total confidence that we are on top of this situation.
  It is a reminder that the Russian Government and the investment that 
they have put into their Navy fleet is not a friendly gesture in terms 
of creating a system of global peace and security; and this 
administration needs to wake up and recognize that and move on to a 
bipartisan effort to respond to this threat.
  They can do that by, again, disclosing all the background regarding 
General Flynn's interaction with the Russian Government because it is 
part and parcel of all those incidents which I listed in terms of 
aggressive actions that are happening in real time as we are here in 
Washington, D.C., today.