GOP senators push Russia sanctions bill

 

Republican senators introduced a bill on Wednesday that would provide direct military assistance to the government of Ukraine while imposing harsh new sanctions on Russia.

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The senators panned President Obama’s latest round of sanctions against Vladimir Putin as “tepid” and said the time has come to take a stronger stand.

"We’ve been disappointed in the rather tepid response," Senate Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDemocrats seize Senate floor to protest gun inaction: 'Put up or shut up' Democrats press for action on election security Hillicon Valley: Election security looms over funding talks | Antitrust enforcers in turf war | Facebook details new oversight board | Apple fights EU tax bill MORE (R-Ky.), one of the bill’s co-sponsors, said during a press conference Wednesday. "We hope we can push the administration in a different direction."

"This is not a messaging bill … it’s a bill to create an outcome," said Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerTrump announces, endorses ambassador to Japan's Tennessee Senate bid Meet the key Senate player in GOP fight over Saudi Arabia Trump says he's 'very happy' some GOP senators have 'gone on to greener pastures' MORE (R-Tenn.), the ranking member member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

The bill would impose immediate new sanctions on individuals, banks, energy companies and an arms dealer in Russia. It would also require the president to substantially increase U.S. and NATO support for the armed forces of Poland, Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia — Russia’s neighbors to the west — and accelerate implementation of missile defense for Europe and other NATO allies.

The legislation would authorize the president to provide $100 million worth of direct military assistance to Ukraine, including anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons and small arms, and encourage intelligence sharing with the government in Kiev. In the event of further aggression by Putin, the legislation requires tougher sanctions hitting entire sectors of the Russian economy.

The bill also calls for an acceleration of natural gas exports to European countries reliant on Russian energy resources.

"The administration’s response has been insufficient," said Sen. Kelly AyotteKelly Ann AyotteGOP fears Trump backlash in suburbs Trump makes rare trip to Clinton state, hoping to win back New Hampshire Key endorsements: A who's who in early states MORE (R-N.H.). "The Russian markets continue to go up...[it] has not had an impact on the actions of Putin."

"Nothing they’re doing is in any way a break on Vladimir Putin’s behavior," said Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainArizona Democratic Party will hold vote to censure Sinema The 13 Republicans needed to pass gun-control legislation Biden's debate performance renews questions of health MORE (R-Ariz.).

Corker emphasized that the senators did not want to see military action over Ukraine, but said the bill would help avoid by clearly outlining the costs of further aggression for Putin.

Obama on Monday defended the new sanctions against Russia and rejected the calls from the GOP's calls for military assistance to Ukraine.

“Do people actually think that somehow us sending some additional arms into Ukraine could potentially deter the Russian army?” Obama said during a press conference in the Philippines. “Or are we more likely to deter them by applying the sort of international pressure, diplomatic pressure and economic pressure that we’re applying?”

Although the sanctions bill announced Wednesday has 19 Republican co-sponsors, Corker said he was confident it would gain bipartisan support.

Other co-sponsors of the bill include Sens. Dan CoatsDaniel (Dan) Ray CoatsTrump has named more ex-lobbyists to Cabinet in 3 years than Obama, Bush did in full terms: report Hillicon Valley: FCC approves Nexstar-Tribune merger | Top Democrat seeks answers on security of biometric data | 2020 Democrats take on Chinese IP theft | How Google, Facebook probes are testing century-old antitrust laws Congress should defy Dan Coats' last request on phone surveillance MORE (R-Ind.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), John CornynJohn CornynDemocrats press for action on election security On The Money: NY prosecutors subpoena eight years of Trump tax returns | Senators struggle to get spending bills off ground as shutdown looms | Progressive tax-the-rich push gains momentum | Trump faces dwindling leverage with China Senators struggle to get spending bills off ground as shutdown looms MORE (R-Texas), Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioRepublicans wary of US action on Iran California poll: Biden, Sanders lead Democratic field; Harris takes fifth The 13 Republicans needed to pass gun-control legislation MORE (R-Fla.), and John HoevenJohn Henry HoevenBottom Line Poll: McConnell is most unpopular senator McConnell ups pressure on White House to get a budget deal MORE (R-N.D.).

— This story was updated at 1:30 p.m.