Graham: Time for Congress to pass Russia sanctions
© Greg Nash

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamMayorkas tests positive for COVID-19 breakthrough case A pandemic of hyper-hypocrisy is infecting American politics Republicans' mantra should have been 'Stop the Spread' MORE (R-S.C.) is urging his colleagues to pass tougher sanctions against Moscow after Russia blocked a United Nations resolution condemning last week's chemical attack in Syria.

"It is now time for Congress to pass sanctions against Putin’s regime for interfering in our election, as well as aiding and abetting [Syrian President Bashar] Assad’s use of chemical weapons," Graham said in a statement Wednesday.

He added that the U.S. "cannot give Putin a pass on either one of these outrageous acts."

Graham's latest push for additional sanctions targeting the Russian government comes after Moscow blocked a U.N. resolution that condemned the chemical attack that U.S. and other Western officials have attributed to Assad.

It also called for the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to conduct a complete probe of the incident.

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Russia is backing the Assad regime in the country's years-long civil war, including offering political and military support.

Graham added on Wednesday that it was "no surprise" that Russia blocked the resolution, adding: "To expect one war criminal to do anything other than protect another is unrealistic."

Graham is one of 10 Republicans backing legislation that would impose new sanctions on Russia for its meddling in the White House race and activities in Ukraine and Syria.

The legislation also expresses the sense of Congress that the "international community should conduct a full investigation into allegations that the Russian Federation committed war crimes through its military actions in Syria."

Graham told reporters on Friday that he was wanted to amend sanctions legislation to "add supporting Assad — the use of weapons of mass destruction [and] enabling him to do that — as a reason he should be sanctioning Putin."

He also introduced legislation that would require congressional approval before Trump could lift Russia sanctions tied to the November election or its activities in Ukraine.

The House passed legislation late last year to slap new sanctions on anyone who provides financial, material or technological support to the Syrian government, a category that would include Russia. The legislation wasn't taken up by the Senate before the end of 2016.