Intel Dem: Putin 'Questions Whether We Have the Will to Step Up to the Plate'
A Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee said that the sanctions against Russia need to be far more biting than some travel bans on high-ranking officials.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) told CNN that he was in Ukraine a couple of weeks ago and "Ukrainians were worried about exactly what's happening -- that the Russians would provoke violent confrontations on the streets of Ukraine and use it as a justification to invade."
"And I think the U.S. really needs to do a few things. We need to step up our sanctions, and that means really trying to get Europe together around sector wide sanctions if the Russians further incur into Ukraine," he said. "Sanctions on their energy industry, on their mining industry, on their banking industry, things that would really cripple Russia's economy. And now this is going to be hurtful to Europe as well. It won't be great for us either, but if Europe and the United States are serious about deterring further Russian aggression, we're really going to have to go with sector-wide sanctions."
Schiff also advocated deploying "NATO assets to our NATO allies in the region to give them some level of confidence that we're going to stand behind Article V of the NATO treaty, that says an attack on any of the NATO countries is an attack on all of the NATO countries."
The White House said President Obama called Russian President Vladimir Putin yesterday and "expressed grave concern about Russian government support for the actions of armed, pro-Russian separatists who threaten to undermine and destabilize the government of Ukraine."
"The President emphasized that all irregular forces in the country need to lay down their arms, and he urged President Putin to use his influence with these armed, pro-Russian groups to convince them to depart the buildings they have seized. The President reiterated the importance of Russia withdrawing its troops from Ukraine’s border in order to defuse tensions," said the readout from the administration. "...The President noted Russia’s growing political and economic isolation as a result of its actions in Ukraine and made clear that the costs Russia already has incurred will increase if those actions persist."
"The President noted the upcoming contact group meeting in Geneva and said that while he continues to believe that a diplomatic solution is still possible, it cannot succeed in an environment of Russian military intimidation on Ukraine’s borders, armed provocation within Ukraine, and escalatory rhetoric by Kremlin officials."
The EU, U.S., Russia and Ukraine are scheduled to hold talks in Geneva on Thursday.
Schiff said "the problem has been the sanctions have been too mild, too target-specific, going after a few of the oligarchs that really haven't hurt the Russian government or the Russian people."
"Sector-wide sanctions, on the other hand, would really cripple Russia's economy. It would make Putin pay a real price and it will take a little of the luster off of his bellicose foreign policy," he added. "Right now the Russians applaud what Putin is doing. If the Russians got to feel the economic impacts they might decide this is not such a great course for Russia after all. But I think the only thing Putin is going to respect is strength and I don't think we've shown it significantly in the response we've had yet."
"...And I think if we want to prevent a third kind of territorial invasion, you know, after Georgia, now Ukraine, we're going to have to really get serious about imposing substantial costs and repercussions. We have the power to do it. We and Europe have the power to do it. The question is, do we have the will to do it? I think Putin right now questions whether we have the will to step up to the plate."