GOP senator says sanctions against Russia aren’t working ‘that well’ after trip there

GOP senator says sanctions against Russia aren’t working ‘that well’ after trip there
© Greg Nash

Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonKavanaugh, accuser to testify publicly on Monday Kavanaugh furor intensifies as calls for new testimony grow House panel advances DHS cyber vulnerabilities bills MORE (R-Wis.) said that he doesn’t believe the United States's current sanctions against Russia are very effective after his recent trip to the country, adding officials should consider reworking the penalties to target Russian oligarchs.

“I think you'd be hard-pressed to say that sanctions against Russia are really working all that well,” Johnson told the Washington Examiner after his trip to country earlier this week.

Johnson was one of several GOP senators who met with Russian officials in the country while traveling there over the July 4 recess.

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He said that while the economic sanctions “don’t seem to be having a real horrible economic effect,” the measures targeting oligarchs close to Russian President Vladimir Putin appear to be more effective.

“My sense is that the targeted sanctions to the oligarchs, to the members of government, are the ones that really sting and probably [offer] the best chance of affecting their behavior," Johnson told the Examiner. "The Russian people, they don't care if an oligarch can't buy a $10 million mansion in London.”

In March, the Trump administration slapped sanctions against five Russian organizations and 19 individuals for interference in the 2016 election and cyberattacks in the U.S. Some of those figures were also indicted for election meddling by special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE.

The administration also imposed sanctions in April against seven Russian oligarchs and their businesses. The sanctions were added under a law passed through Congress last year in response to election interference.