Sen. Corker doubles down on Russia

Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) is urging President Obama to expand Russian sanctions to target companies owned by the Russian state.

Obama on Thursday announced new sanctions on top aides and close associates of Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinThe Hill's Morning Report - Dems to lay out impeachment case to senators next week Overnight Defense: Foreign policy takes center stage at Democratic debate | House delivers impeachment articles to Senate | Dems vow to force new vote on Trump's border wall Putin names successor to Medvedev as Russian prime minister MORE, warning that much broader penalties would follow if Russia intensifies its invasion of Ukraine.


The senior Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee welcomed the move, but called on the White House Friday to waste no time in applying the wider restrictions.

“The president’s additional U.S. sanctions announced yesterday were appropriate steps, and he should target a number of state-owned companies to send shock waves into Russia’s economy, demonstrating to the Putin regime that this is just the beginning if they intervene further in Ukraine,” Corker said in a brief statement.

Russia's invasion of Ukraine last month – launched after an uprising that toppled President Viktor Yanukovych, a Russian ally – has only intensified the already strained relations between Washington and Moscow. 

The further annexation of Crimea – and subsequent vote rejoining the peninsula with Russia – has led to an escalating series of sanctions between the U.S. and Russia. The escalation resulted in Thursday's announcement by Obama that key Putin allies, particularly those operating in the financial sector, would be subject to the tough new restrictions.

Obama also warned that he would expand those restrictions, potentially to include vital sectors like energy and defense, if Putin expands the occupation.

"Russian must know that further escalation will only isolate fit further from the international community," Obama said Thursday.

Congress is also getting involved, with House GOP leaders introducing legislation Friday to expand the scope of potential U.S. sanctions on Russia to include additional officials and members of the business elite. 

The House bill differs from a similar Senate proposal in that it does not include controversial language reforming the International Monetary Fund (IMF), a provision backed by the White House but opposed by House GOP leaders.

Votes on both the House and Senate bills are expected as early as next week.