Senators demand another round of sanctions against Russia
“What are we waiting for?” Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, asked twice at a hearing with senior administration officials from State, Treasury and the Defense departments about targeted sanctions that the administration said it was preparing last month.
Lawmakers ticked off a list of examples of Russia’s pattern of escalating the nearly three month crisis and then pulling back, arguing that Russian President Vladimir Putin has made the U.S. and European allies look foolish. More than 400 people have died and thousands have fled their homes in Ukraine as fighting continues between government forces and pro-Russia separatists.
Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, the top Republican on the committee, called the administration’s sanctions policy “feckless” and described the U.S. as a “paper tiger to the world.”
Menendez said he didn’t know how long Congress would wait before moving independently.
“We fight with one hand behind our back, maybe two,” Menendez told Nuland. “I don’t get it.”
Corker questioned what was behind the administration’s reluctance, asking whether it was fear of economic blowback that could cost Democrats in November’s midterm elections or related to Europe’s concerns given its reliance on Russia for fuel supplies.