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September 5th, 2014
06:42 PM ET

Menendez on Russia in Ukraine: Use whatever euphemism you want, to me it's an invasion

(CNN) – President Obama announced Friday that a core coalition - formed on the sidelines of this week's NATO summit - would take on militant group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, known as ISIS, or ISIL.

"That coalition needs to bring to bear the same resources we have brought to bear so far, both in air power, as well as other military equipment and abilities," said Sen. Robert Menendez, D-New Jersey.

"I hope (coalition countries) will be part of drying up ISIL's money," says Menendez, adding that the militant group is one of the best funded terrorist organizations at the moment.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee, of which Menendez is chairman, will be holding a hearing on U.S. strategy against ISIS later this month. Secretary of State John Kerry will testify, and Menendez says he hopes Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel will as well.

"Members are going to want to hear exactly how are we going to go about degrading and ultimately defeating ISIS, and what will that entail, who will join us, what will they do in the process, and how do you envision this campaign taking place?" said Menendez.

If the evolving campaign against ISIS requires more than airstrikes and protecting U.S. personnel in Iraq, "then it may very well need the authorization for the use of force," said the senator.

Russia, Ukraine, and the word "invasion"

Menendez traveled to Ukraine earlier this week, and has decisively described Russia's troops entering that country as an invasion. But the Obama administration is reluctant to use that word.

Thousands of Russian soldiers, columns of tanks, surface-to-surface missile armed artillery, and other sophisticated weaponry crossing from the Russian border into Ukraine and fighting against Ukrainian troops can only be called one thing, according to the senator.

"I don't know what anybody else calls it, or whatever euphemism they want to use, to me that's an invasion," said Menendez.

"It's a important for Europe and for the United States to understand that this is a watershed moment, and that we have to decide are we going to work to uphold the international order that Russia has so clearly violated?" he said.

The Democratic senator has called on the U.S. to provide lethal aid to the Ukrainian army.

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