By Kristina Wong - 05/04/14 10:15 AM EDT
“He has all these troops poised at the border … he hasn’t crossed the border yet,” the ranking member of the Foreign Affairs Committee said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
Engel, who recently returned from Ukraine, said Putin knows if Russian forces were to cross into Ukraine, tough sanctions that would bring the Russian economy “to its knees” would follow.
However, Engel said Putin was “trying everything he can” to disrupt planned May 25 elections in Ukraine.
“It’s very, very important that the elections go smoothly,” he said. “Those elections on May 25 have to happen … it is so important.”
Violence and instability in eastern Ukraine have increased over the last few days, as Ukrainian forces undertook a major assault in Slovyansk, and Ukrainian and pro-Russian groups clashed in Odessa, killing 34.
Yet, Engel conceded that the U.S. might need to do more than sanction Russia.
“We do need to consider giving military aid to Ukraine,” he said.