Statement by Senators McCain and Graham On Sanctions Against Russia and the Situation In Ukraine

U.S. Capitol at Twilight With Washington Monument, National Mall, Washington, D.C., Environs and Sunset in Background

(mccain.senate.gov – Washington, D.C. – April 28, 2014) U.S. Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) today released the following statement on the Obama Administration’s latest round of sanctions against Russia and the situation in Ukraine:

“The Obama Administration’s latest round of sanctions is days late and dollars short. While a unified U.S. and European response to Russia’s aggression is ideal, the current policy has become a reduction to the lowest common denominator. This has led to a gradual escalation of pressure that, at best, is failing to deter Russian aggression and, at worst, may actually be inviting it. If we are now forced to choose between alliance unity or meaningful action, we must choose action, and America must lead it.

“Consider Russia’s actions over the past several weeks: It has invaded and annexed Ukraine’s sovereign territory in Crimea. It has deployed Russian military and intelligence agents into Ukraine to provoke instability, destabilize the government in Kyiv, disrupt Ukraine’s upcoming election, and possibly manufacture pretexts for additional seizures of Ukrainian territory. It has maintained and exercised tens of thousands of Russian forces on Ukraine’s border. It agreed in Geneva to take several steps to de-escalate tensions in Ukraine and then either failed to implement or blatantly violated every aspect of that agreement.

“And what has been the U.S. and European response? Targeted sanctions against a handful of Russian individuals and entities that have been viewed by those sanctioned more as a mark of pride than a meaningful cost. Unfortunately, it is clear that today’s additional sanctions will be viewed the same way, and will not deter further acts of Russian aggression.

“The United States needs to correct the disturbing mismatch between Russia’s actions and our weak response to it. We need to expand sanctions to major Russian banks, energy companies, and sectors of its economy, such as the arms and mining industries, which serve as instruments of Putin’s foreign policy. We need to meet the Ukrainian government’s requests for meaningful military assistance – including anti-air, anti-tank, and other defensive weapons – as part of a long-term effort to help Ukraine reform and rebuild its armed forces. We need to push NATO to move toward a robust and persistent military presence in central Europe and the Baltic countries, including increased missile defense capabilities. And we need to expedite U.S. energy exports as part of a transatlantic strategy to reduce Europe’s dependence on Russian oil and gas.

“Without these, and other actions, we should expect Russia’s aggression in Ukraine to continue to escalate and possibly expand to other countries in the region. If our European allies cannot o r will not join us in imposing meaningful costs on Russia, America must act on our own. The best way to bring our allies with us at this point is stronger American leadership.”

Map of Ukraine, Including Crimea, and Neighbors, Including Russia