House Dem: 'The problem is Europe'

Anne Wernikoff

A top House Democrat says European powers are ignoring Russia's role in the separatist uprising in Ukraine.

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Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.), who along with other lawmakers was recently denied entrance into Russia, said European leaders have been far too reluctant to confront Russian President Vladimir Putin by applying tougher economic sanctions amid the violence.

"I think the problem is Europe. … Where is Europe on this?" Moran said Monday in an interview with MSNBC.

"I mean, Russia sells its natural resources to Europe, Europe sends the money to the Russian oligarchs, they then invest it in Europe and then Europe feels that it can't act against Russia.

"This whole thing, I don't know where it's going, but it's so ironic and so outrageous," Moran added. "The Western powers are going to have to get together and take stronger action."

Appearing on the same program, Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, agreed. He called on France, which has contracts with Russia for a pair of amphibious warships, to scrap those agreements.

"The French ought to take … a leadership role and say, ‘The hundreds of Russian soldiers in our country right now being trained on this, they're going home and the Russians are not getting this ship,' " Kinzinger said. "It's an economic impact but it's the right thing to do and it'll send a strong message."

The conflict between the Ukrainian government and pro-Russia militants, already raging for months, entered a tragic new phase last week with the downing of a Malaysian Airlines passenger plane over an area of eastern Ukraine controlled by the separatists. All 298 passengers — most of them European — were killed.

U.S. officials say they believe the plane was hit by a Russian-made surface-to-air missile. Samantha Power, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, has said there's “credible evidence” the attack was carried out by rebel militants, perhaps with technical assistance from Russian personnel.

Both Putin and the militants have denied involvement.

The tragedy has intensified the push in Congress to provide more military help to the Ukrainian government fighting the rebels.

Kinzinger said it's time for both the U.S. and European powers "to begin, in very earnest, arming the Ukrainian military to ensure that they have all the intelligence that we have … and get very serious about pushing … these militias out of Ukraine."

Kinzinger predicted there would be widespread bipartisan support for an increase in military aid to Ukraine "if it's needed."

"We have our debates. We have our partisanship. But I think … when we go outside the coast of the United States, Americans stand together, Republican, Democratic, left and right," he said. "And I think there is very strong support for this."

Moran agreed that an increase in funding would have little problem passing through Congress.

"I don't think there's much question about that," he said.

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