Corker: Obama’s new sanctions just a ‘slap on the wrist’

 

Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said Monday that President Obama’s latest round of sanctions against Russian officials was just a “slap on the wrist.”

“After a week of rhetoric from the administration, I had hoped we would have responded to Russia’s blatant violations of its commitments to cease efforts to destabilize Ukraine with more than just a slap on the wrist,” said Corker, ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. 

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Corker’s comment came after Obama announced that the U.S. is imposing a new round of sanctions against top Russian officials in an attempt to stop Russian President Vladimir Putin from invading neighboring countries.

“Until Putin feels the real pain of sanctions targeting entities like Gazprom, which the Kremlin uses to coerce Ukraine and other neighbors, as well as some significant financial institutions, I don’t think diplomacy will change Russian behavior and de-escalate this crisis,” Corker said.

Congress passed an aid package for Ukraine that included some sanctions against Russian leaders after the annexation of Crimea. 

Lawmakers have said more needs to be done as tensions escalate in eastern Ukraine, where pro-Russian militants are occupying government buildings. Corker said the United States and Europe should do more to stop Putin before he takes control of all of Ukraine.

Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) joined Corker in saying Obama’s latest action isn’t enough.

“The administration’s tepid, incremental sanctions are insufficient given Russia’s continued occupation of Crimea and ongoing actions to fuel unrest in eastern Ukraine,” Ayotte said. “Putin will not be deterred until the U.S. takes swift action to impose sanctions now on Russia’s financial sector — and authorizes more severe sanctions, such as on Russia’s energy sector, that would go into effect should Putin take additional aggressive actions against Ukraine.”

European allies are hesitant to go after Russia’s energy sector because most of their natural gas supply comes from Russia.

Ayotte also said the United States should provide support for Ukraine’s military.

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