Wyden, Lew vow to 'economically, politically isolate' Russia

Wyden, Lew vow to 'economically, politically isolate' Russia
© Greg Nash

New Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenBottom line Hillicon Valley: Subpoenas for Facebook, Google and Twitter on the cards | Wray rebuffs mail-in voting conspiracies | Reps. raise mass surveillance concerns On The Money: Anxious Democrats push for vote on COVID-19 aid | Pelosi, Mnuchin ready to restart talks | Weekly jobless claims increase | Senate treads close to shutdown deadline MORE (D-Ore.) said his panel is looking down many economic avenues to convince Russia to step back from its move into Crimea. 

In his first hearing as the head of the committee, Wyden said his committee is "now looking at every possible economic lever to pressure Russia to step back from its unprovoked incursion into Crimea."

ADVERTISEMENT

"The fact is, Russia has consistently used trade as a cudgel to bully its neighbors," he said Wednesday. 

Wyden said the members of his panel have zeroed in on trade, and the first step in the process is ensuring Russia's World Trade Organization agreements are fully enforced, "which they aren't now."

He asked Treasury Secretary Jack Lew how the Obama administration could "best marshal this country’s economic might in defense of the people of Ukraine."

Lew told the committee that, "at this time, we are looking into a wide range of options, including sanctions and ways to increase Russia’s political and economic isolation." 

As part of an international effort, the United States will provide a package of bilateral assistance that includes $1 billion in loan guarantees and International Monetary Fund (IMF) quota legislation, which would support the IMF's ability to lend additional resources to Ukraine while preserving U.S. leadership within the institution.

Lew called it "imperative" for passage of IMF legislation that will help the fund play "a central and active first responder role in Ukraine."

He said the United States would not increase its total financial commitment to the IMF.

Lew said the United States has withdrawn from the Group of 8 meetings and a Russian trade mission, and won't send a presidential delegation to the Paralympics in Sochi. 

Wyden asked Lew to provide other options to him and the panel within the next couple of days. 

Lew noted President Obama has said that Russia's move to violate Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity "are a breach of international law," and the nation must be held accountable.

"Our ultimate goal is to de-escalate the situation in Ukraine," he said.

In the meantime, as the Ukrainian government prepares for elections in May, he said the international community must support its efforts to restore economic stability, too.

He said Ukraine has signaled that the government is ready to adopt economic reforms.