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Will Obama Heed Call Among Dems for ‘Stronger, Stiffer Sanctions’ Slapped Quickly on Putin?

Senate Dem chairman: "I'm not thinking about what Putin will do...we've seen what he'll do. It's what we in the West will do."

Bridget Johnson


July 21, 2014 - 6:29 pm
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WASHINGTON — A notable word was missing from President Obama’s brief statement on Ukraine on the South Lawn of the White House Monday morning: sanctions.

He chided Russian President Vladimir Putin to do the right thing and assist in the investigation of the shootdown of MH17, and subtly warned that “the costs for Russia’s behavior will only continue to increase” if it does not stop backing the separatists believed to have fired the missile that struck the passenger jet.

Obama’s week is filled with fundraising — a Tuesday DNC event in Seattle, a Wednesday DCCC event in San Francisco and a Thursday DNC fundraiser in Los Angeles — but even members of his own party are filling the queue with questions about what punishment waits in store for Putin.

Especially if the investigation into the Malaysia Airlines takedown reveals that Russia was more instrumental in killing 298 passengers and crew than just supplying the Buk surface-to-air missile system to rebels.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), a critic of the sanctions rollback in Iran nuclear negotiations, acknowledged on Fox News Sunday that Obama has “a tough job.”

“But I’ll simply say before the shootdown, I was an advocate of further-reaching sanctions to stop Russia’s aggression and let Putin know the consequences of continuing that form of aggression,” Menendez said. “And, clearly, President Putin created the set of circumstances and has supplied the recourses and armament to rebels, in which this tragedy could take place.”

“So, for me, I think that the West, including the United States, has to have a far more significant response than we’ve seen to date.”

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), one of the handful of senators who has long been critical of the Obama administration’s continued defense contracts with Russian arms giant Rosoboronexport, said in a Sunday afternoon statement that “stronger, stiffer sanctions must be applied quickly and dramatically against Russia in the wake of its aiding and abetting this massacre.”

“President Putin must be compelled to pay and apologize — pay the victims’ families through a compensation fund, and apologize to them and the world for Russia’s role in this horrific act of terrorism,” Blumenthal said. “Clear and compelling evidence points to Putin and as effectively the pernicious perpetrator of this horrific air terrorist tragedy. He armed, encouraged and incited his Russian so-called rebel agents in Ukraine. He is supporting coverup and obstruction of a legitimate investigation.”

“…Putin and those responsible for this atrocity must be held accountable.”

Furthermore, the senator said, Obama “should be aggressively rallying European allies — sending emissaries to every capital — to join in energy and financial sanctions.”

“Only joint sanctions involving the Europeans will hit the Russians where they live… The world community must take this horrific tragedy and a rallying cry for action — Putin’s Lockerbie — and join to impose accountability.”

Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.), who was targeted by Russian travel sanctions for his part in a House amendment intended to block the Rosoboronexport contracts, told CNN that Europe needs to have a strong response to the attack, but the strong supporter of the White House also said the administration needs a response strategy.

“I mean, the military commander in the Eastern Ukraine region has been a colonel in GRU, the Russian secret police organization. Clearly this is controlled by Russia. These militants wouldn’t do this unless they had the blessing and operational support from the Russians. So we need to place this firmly on Putin’s desk and demand that Putin get out of Ukraine so this doesn’t happen again. If he doesn’t get out, then this kind of thing is going to happen again. It’s intolerable and we ought to say that and take appropriate action — which ought to be stronger than what we’ve seen to date,” Moran said.

“Clearly, Russia was directing this — and this alleged conversation with this Egor Strelkof, the commander in the Russian secret police, saying we hit a military plane, which turned out to be Malaysian Airlines, well, I think you can connect the dots, which leads to the Russian government in Moscow.”

And Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said Obama needs to show strength as the leader of the free world.

“I think the world would very much respect his increased attention on this matter,” Feinstein told CNN today. “And I think there ought to be increased attention.”

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All Comments   (8)
All Comments   (8)
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I don't like Soviet-style autocracy but by contrast
They never beheaded non-believers. Sometimes you need to
Choose the lesser of evils.

It can be argued that Putin's policies are, for the most part, a continuation of many of the Soviet-era policies. While the Soviets may not have practiced literal beheadings, they certainly practiced metaphorical beheadings throughout their existence. The early Soviet leaders, especially Lenin and Stalin, killed their opponents via man-made famines, bullets, and working them to death in the Gulag. Later leaders preferred more "gentle" methods like locking dissidents in insane asylums and pumping them full of drugs that would make anyone crazy. These are hardly people that I would consider the lesser of evils under just about any circumstances you could name.
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
Just a thought: I'm no fan of aggressive Russian expansionism but in a wider
Picture of the region why should we be so happy to see Ukraine align with
The EU at a time when Europe is virtually committing suicide by timorously bowing
Before it's violent Islamist minority. It's a matter of short years before the Old World
Will submit fully to Dhimmitude. Whatever you say about
Putin, as he's proven with Chechnya at least he won't fold before the sword of Islam like
The Euro-Sheep. I don't like Soviet-style autocracy but by contrast
They never beheaded non-believers. Sometimes you need to
Choose the lesser of evils.
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
he told Putin that if he wins, he would be more flexible, and Putin is just seeing how flexible he can be.
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
So, now it's Russian terrorism that brought down that aircraft.

Was it terrorism when we shot down flight 655 Iranian air? How many Ukrainians want to be Russian? Why are we in Russia's back yard? Look at our own back yard invasion. Any real terrorists coming in?
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
The Clinton Administration orchestrated the cover up of the missile take down of TWA Flight 800 using the FBI and the CIA to do the dirty work. We have no right to criticize Putin for his attempts to cover up his role in the missile attack. Clinton's cover up was much worse. Get your hands on the recent documentary on Netflix called TWA Flight 800. It is absolutely mind boggling to what extent the FBI and CIA went to in order to cover up the missile attack.
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
The tension on the world's spring can only last so long. A passenger plane going down in a warzone will be cataloged, amortized, and filed away to gather dust. The Buk stops there.

The most potent form of 21st Century warfare is ones and zeros. 'Round and 'round the dollar goes, when it finally gets flushed no one knows.

Except for the Russians and the Chinese. If they both ever get their financial houses in order backed up by a stable currency that doesn't have a picture of Washington, Grant, Hamilton, Franklin, or Lincoln on it, then expect one day to wake up to trillions of paper ICBM's headed back our way that will do worse than any radiological device ever could.

Besides the fact that The Administration is corrupt, hopefully the upper-echelon cabal types know well enough to sabre-rattle with a plastic knife. I only state all this as a reminder that everyone should be preparing for rough weather. She's gonna blow either way.
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
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