Ohio Democrats and Republicans Call for Tough Russia Sanctions | Ohio News | Cincinnati

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photo: Gage Skidmore, Wikimedia Commons

Rob Portman, U.S. Senator from Ohio

Democrats and Republicans in Congress on Tuesday called on President Joe Biden to impose tough sanctions on Russia after the country declared large parts of eastern Ukraine independent before sending troops to the region.

Members of Congress seem unanimous, for now, that the most the United States should do is restrict the Russian economy, not send American soldiers to confront Russian troops on the streets of Russia. ‘Ukraine. The leaders also began discussing additional emergency funding that would allow the United States to financially penalize Russian oligarchs.

Democratic New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said Russian President Vladimir Putin declaring the independence of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics was “an act of unprovoked aggression and a brazen violation of international law”.

“Despite repeated efforts to open the door to diplomacy, Vladimir Putin has chosen the path of conflict,” Menendez said, while calling on the United States and European countries to impose “crushing sanctions.”

The panel’s top Republican, Jim Risch of Idaho, said in a statement that Russia’s actions “equate to an invasion.”

“The United States and our allies must immediately implement tough sanctions that Putin cannot ignore,” he said.

Risch’s statement also included a call to pass a bill imposing sanctions on Russia and providing more aid to Ukraine.

Biden on Monday issued sanctions on new investment, trade and finance in the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Lugansk People’s Republic – the two breakaway regions that Putin declared independent earlier in the day.

Biden on Tuesday announced additional sanctions against Russia after that country’s legislature gave Putin the power to send military forces outside the country. These sanctions will hit two Russian financial institutions, Russian sovereign debt and Russian elites and their families.

Biden also said he authorized the movement of US forces and equipment already in Europe to Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, all of which are members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

Speaking from the East Room of the White House, Biden said he believed “Russia is about to go much further and launch a massive military attack on Ukraine.” If that happens, the administration will impose more sanctions on Russia, he said.

emergency meeting

With Congress on recess, some lawmakers who are foreign affairs leaders are in Europe and have issued statements from there.

Rep. Brendan Boyle, a Pennsylvania Democrat who represents a large population of Ukrainian-Americans in his district, leads an emergency meeting of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly in Brussels.

“The West must impose severe sanctions on the Russian regime, including Putin and the oligarchs personally,” he wrote on Twitter. “It’s time to freeze their assets.”

Congressional Ukraine caucus co-chairs — Pennsylvania Republican Brian Fitzpatrick, Maryland Republican Andy Harris, Ohio Democrat Marcy Kaptur and Illinois Democrat Mike Quigley — called for increased military and economic support for Ukraine and the imposition of “robust” sanctions against the Russian oligarchs.

“Ukraine’s security and ability to exercise self-determination cannot depend on Russian assent – it must be guaranteed,” they said in a statement. “By strengthening Ukraine’s position, demonstrating a unified global coalition and forcing Putin to grasp the consequences for Russia, the world can avoid the outbreak of a war the likes of which it has not seen in nearly of a century.”

Senator Rob Portman, a Republican from Ohio who co-chairs the Senate Ukrainian Caucus, said the United States did not go far enough when Russia invaded Crimea eight years ago, and urged Biden to take stronger action.

“I encourage the Biden administration to impose devastating sanctions now as a way to deter further Russian military operations against our ally Ukraine,” he said.

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, the top Republican on the State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee, said he was working with Democratic senators to craft a bill on state and foreign operations. emergency spending that would allow the Departments of Defense, Justice, State and Treasury to “prosecute the oligarchs”. enriched by Putin’s misadventures.

“Now is the time for this mob to lose their yachts, lose their luxury apartments and pay the price for becoming part of a rogue group – a nation state that is truly a mafia state,” Graham said.

Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, Energy, Environment and Cyber, Democrat Bill Keating of Massachusetts, and Ranking Member Fitzpatrick issued a joint statement condemning Putin for invading Ukraine and calling on Congress to “work to punish these actions and make any further escalation extremely painful for the Kremlin.

“At this time, we support swift, severe and damaging sanctions on all those involved in (the) destructive decision to further invade Ukraine in an effort to consolidate Russia’s illegal occupation of Donbass,” they said. they wrote.

US Senator Jeanne Shaheen, a Democrat from New Hampshire who heads the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Europe, said Putin’s foray into breakaway regions was an “illegal annexation”.

This decision “must be met with fierce condemnation from the global community and a response that sends an unequivocal message that NATO, the West and democracies around the world will not sit idly by while Putin makes the war on Ukraine,” Shaheen said. “The administration should use the tools at its disposal and impose tough penalties today.”

Shaheen issued her statement from Poland, where she traveled following an international security conference in Germany, to discuss the role NATO members should play in the conflict.

Colorado Democratic Sen. Michael Bennett, who serves on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said the president should immediately coordinate with allied nations and continue to impose sanctions on Russia.

“Putin’s blatant rejection of Ukrainian sovereignty violates international law,” he said in a statement. “We must hold Putin accountable for his aggression and support the Ukrainian people’s desire for an independent and democratic nation.”

Arizona Democratic Senator Mark Kelly called for “significant sanctions against Putin, his supporters and the Russian government for this incursion”.

Kelly, a member of the Armed Services Committee, said he “will continue to support the provision of arms and equipment to Ukraine to defend against further Russian invasion, and will continue to work with my colleagues and this administration. to defend Ukrainian sovereignty”.

The GOP criticizes Biden

But some Republicans have attacked Biden for showing “weakness”.

Wisconsin Republican Senator Ron Johnson, the ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Europe, said in a press release that Biden’s moves to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline, withdraw from Afghanistan and increasing government spending showed weakness for the rest of the world. .

“All of these actions have weakened America, and our enemies have taken notice,” he said. “They are taking advantage of the weakness of the Biden administration.”

A handful of House Republicans — led by Leader Kevin McCarthy — criticized Biden for not doing more to punish Putin.

“Vladimir Putin’s decision to launch a new invasion of Ukraine is reprehensible,” McCarthy tweeted shortly after Biden’s remarks. “Unfortunately, President Biden has always chosen appeasement, and his tough rhetoric on Russia has never been followed by strong action.”

“This is just another failed line in the sand from President Biden,” tweeted Rep. Mark Green, a Republican from Tennessee who is the leading member of the House Foreign Affairs Panel on Europe. .

In other tweets, Green said Biden should use sanctions to “cripple the heart of the Russian economy.”

“Joe Biden knows how to project weakness at a time that demands strength,” North Carolina Republican Virginia Foxx tweeted.

This story was originally published by the Ohio Capital Journal and is republished here with permission.

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