By Rebecca Shabad - 07/23/14 10:34 AM EDT
Europe has been “feckless” in its response to Russia, Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said Wednesday.
Corker, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told MSNBC’s “The Daily Rundown” that Europe has not done enough to punish Russia for its incursion of Ukraine.
European Union foreign ministers met Tuesday and agreed they would expand the list of Russian individuals and groups they would sanction. The EU officials, however, stopped short of promising tougher sector sanctions that could cripple Russia’s economy.
Corker applauded the Obama administration for initiating a first wave of sector sanctions last Wednesday — the day before Flight MH17 was shot down over eastern Ukraine.
“I do want to give this administration an attaboy. The day before the incident occurred with Malaysia Airlines, they did put in place some sectoral sanctions on two energy companies, two banking entities, eight arms dealers, and I thank them for that,” he said.
On Tuesday, three top Senate Democrats urged President Obama to impose broad sectoral sanctions against Russia and to possibly blacklist the pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine as a foreign terrorist organization.
Corker criticized the administration for not doing enough early on.
“We’ve done nothing to push back,” he said. “Russia had 40,000 troops on the border. We did nothing. They were fomenting problems within eastern Ukraine. We knew they were supplying arms — this BUK system — we did nothing. Again, we’ve been saying all along it’s these types of circumstances leading to something really bad happening. And if you don’t push back early on, it can lead to much greater conflict.”
Corker suggested the administration should consider providing lethal aid to Ukraine to “make sure Ukraine is ready” to fight the rebels, which he said would “send a really strong message."