Harman on lack of tougher Russia sanctions: 'Beats me'

Former Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.) said the Obama administration shouldn’t wait another day to impose tougher sanctions against Russia’s economic sectors.

In an interview Tuesday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Harman was asked why President Obama hasn’t already stepped them up. 

“Beats me,” she said. “I mean, who do we think these people inside Ukraine are? Martians? I don’t think so. They certainly are trained by Russia, if they aren’t Russians. They look like Russians and speak like Russians and don’t identify themselves, which violates the Geneva Conventions.”


Harman’s comments came as reports said Ukraine’s government in Kiev said it launched a military operation in the eastern part of the country on Tuesday to target pro-Russian separatists who have occupied government buildings over the last week. 

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) “is right,” Harman said, about Russia’s economy being a "gas station" with Russian oligarchs monitoring it. She said the United States should target Russia’s two main gas companies: Gazprom and Russneft.

“We do that right now, we really hurt them. We do that right now whether or not Europe goes with us,” Harman said. “I don’t think we should wait another day to do it.” 

Harman served in Congress from 2001 to 2011, and now serves as president and CEO of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

The U.S. “has to lead from the front,” added Harman, who said Obama has been “very careful” in bringing the international community along.

“I think he’s waiting for the international community to come with,” she said. “I think he’s waited long enough for the international community to come with.”