Senior Dems want Europe input on any Russia sanctions
March 3rd, 2014
07:01 PM ET
9 years ago

Senior Dems want Europe input on any Russia sanctions

Washington (CNN) – Senior Senate Democrats, including Majority Leader Harry Reid, cautioned Monday that any U.S. move toward sanctions against Russia over Ukraine should be carried out in accordance with European allies.

Separately, Republican Ron Johnson, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said he's urging fellow lawmakers to speak with "one voice" as they discuss action over the developing situation in Crimea.

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The situation in Ukraine – as it applies to politics in the United States – is not clear yet. Reflexive partisanship, so sharply evident on domestic issues, isn’t always embraced quickly or uniformly on matters of state.

Though, some vocal conservatives amplified their criticism of President Barack Obama’s foreign policy as Russian troops moved to consolidate their hold on Crimea and the administration moved quickly to put together a plan for possible sanctions.

Obama warned Monday that the range of steps under consideration would “isolate” Russia.

One senior U.S. official said decisions are "expected very soon" and it could be a "pretty fast process."

Some European allies, particularly Germany and France, are balking at sanctions before giving diplomacy a chance.

And Reid believes any action along these should not be arrived at unilaterally.

"What I'm going to recommend is that anything we do be coordinated with our allies. President Obama says he wants to give economic aid, I think that's appropriate. Happy to help in any way."

A source told CNN Reid was speaking for himself, not the administration, regarding his views on the United States being in agreement with European leaders.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, a Democrat from Vermont and the most senior member of the Senate, warned that United States has "few options" to punish Russia and those can only work if "we can get our allies to stick with us."

Leahy, who chairs the appropriations subcommittee on foreign operations, said when people push Obama to act quickly, it "raises expectations" but in reality "there's very little we can do."

"We can support Ukraine. We can help with aid. We can do these things. But if there is going to be a shooting war between the Ukrainians and the Russians in Crimea, we're not sending troops in," Leahy said. "But no other country is going to send troops in."

Congress will have a say in the focus and size of a U.S. response, with calls already for a possible sanctions package.

Hawkish Republicans have criticized Obama for what they called a lack of resolve that they say emboldened Russian President Vladimir Putin to send troops into the Crimea region.

Sen. John McCain, an Arizona Republican, called Obama's foreign policy "feckless" on Monday, after House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers of Michigan said on "Fox News Sunday" that Putin and Russia had been "running circles around us."

Fellow GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina called for reviving plans for a NATO missile defense shield in Poland that Russia opposed.

Obama told reporters on Monday that there should be "unanimity" between Democrats and Republicans in seeking to preserve "the principle that no country has the right to send in troops to another country unprovoked."

"My expectation is we ought to be able to get Congress to work with us to achieve that goal," he said, specifically calling for an economic assistance package for Ukraine to help provide stability during the crisis.

Sen. Robert Menendez, who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, responded later that the panel was putting together legislation to provide $1 billion in loan guarantees for Ukraine's economy.

"We are also consulting with the administration on possible sanctions actions against individual Russians and Ukrainians that range from visa bans and asset freezes, to the suspension of military cooperation and sales, as well as economic sanctions," the New Jersey Democrat said.

Johnson told CNN he was urging the panel to speak with "one voice" to "show the Russians” unanimity.

"It will send a much more powerful signal and hopefully get Putin to think twice," Johnson said, adding that "Putin needs to pay a big price here" because "this is no time to be shrinking violets and rely on words."

CNN's Dana Bash, Ted Barrett and Dana Davidsen contributed to this report.

Filed under: Harry Reid • Pat Leahy • Ron Johnson • Senate • Senate Democrats
soundoff (13 Responses)
  1. Name

    The UN is the world police not the US They rushed in, looking like war Mongrels , We walk softly & carry a bug stick !!! 🙂 Only not standing behind our leader will we look weak

    March 3, 2014 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  2. Smitty

    Good ol Harry Reid, don't worry Harry, its just like the Oblundercare nightmare stories, all lies !!!

    March 3, 2014 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |

    Yes cut our military the dems cry out from the hilltops ! Really ! They got a very bad case of infection of the brain ! 0r just dont care if we survive as a nation . You would think you would want to be alive holding a gun than dead with a foodstamp in your hand you cant spend .! i hope thats n0t 2 much 4 you at 1 time dems . thx

    March 3, 2014 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  4. Thomas

    This is about corruption , Gangster Putin is using the nationalism card to project the blame on the West for his failures .

    This is about a corrupt elected president who was exposed for his decadent and lavish , corrupt administration .

    Follow the money of the gangster's all the way to there banks in London , Dubai , Panama , New York , Switzerland .. Let the Russian people see for themselves the amount of stolen wealth from there country as there currency falls.

    March 3, 2014 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  5. Randy, San Francisco

    Senior Democratic leaders are absolutely correct. Proceed with caution and in unison with European allies. We do not need another Cold War. We do not want to restart the nuclear war count down clock. The war hawks in the Republican Tea Party need to cool their rhetoric and show a united front with President Obama.

    March 3, 2014 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  6. Stuffitu

    They certainly don't have anyone in their own party to ask. Sounds like it might be worth a trip for Michelle to go and spend a month or so in Europe, Oprah can go with her.

    March 3, 2014 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  7. tom l

    Holy cake. Sarah Palin was right. I can't believe I just typed that and I can't imagine how angry liberals are about that.

    March 3, 2014 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  8. The Republican Party Is Dead To Me

    The Dem's want input from the European countries before making irrational steps that could escalate the situation, or make matters worse for all nations. Seems like a logical approach to the current situation, but I'm sure there'll be many among the republican ranks that will disagree. It's the republican knee jerk reaction to any or all problems that has cost the US, reputation wise, both at home and abroad. They (the republicans), need to be aware that many of us here in the civilian ranks know what they've done, and intend to do something about this during the next election. If the republicans intend to be leaders in the future, they are going to have to realize that mismanagement recorded for posterity last's a long time, and can be reviewed at a moments notice. The public, is not as misinformed as they'd like it to be.

    March 3, 2014 09:09 pm at 9:09 pm |
  9. wendel

    instead of standing united with our president ,republicans are using this to bash the president. Sword rattling is what they are good at. I can not see what the president could have done differently to change someone like Putin. But repos offer no solutions short of War. McCaine is a total jerk . And Palin could not manage a state let alone a country. traitorous bunch of trolls.

    March 3, 2014 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  10. YUCK

    Assuming that republicans knew what was going on along time ago but didn't react until people voted Obama for president and now the republicans are trying to blame Obama on everything..shame on the republican party for not acting along time ago.

    March 3, 2014 10:08 pm at 10:08 pm |
  11. J'Cincinnati'Redd

    The problem. Putin,has zero fear of america. Solution. Send a strong msg. And what msg is that? I dont know.

    March 3, 2014 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  12. salty dog

    I missed the shrinking violets thing.

    March 4, 2014 07:15 am at 7:15 am |
  13. Enough is Enough

    Maybe they should start with some input from President not present.....the AP is reporting that Obama was not present at a meeting of his security council on Saturday when were discussing issues in Ukraine. What in the world could have been more important than that meeting for our commander in chief? This guy is a real piece of work – if he had a real job he would have been fired for that. Then, he never has had a real job.....maybe that's the problem.....

    March 4, 2014 07:15 am at 7:15 am |