Cantor Looks to Confront Putin, Impose Costs on Russia
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor is looking to retaliate against Russia after it moved to annex Crimea Tuesday.
“I’ve asked House Committees to examine additional steps that can be taken to impose greater costs to Russia,” the Virginia Republican said in a statement on Tuesday afternoon.
He added that he also would “look forward to working with President Obama and his Administration to confront the brazen challenge to international security posted by [Russian] President [Vladimir] Putin’s aggression.” The House has already passed legislation that would extend financial aid to Ukraine, plus a resolution expressing support for sanctions.
On Monday, the White House announced a new round of sanctions against Russia, which seized control of Crimea in an alleged violation of international law. On Tuesday, Putin said he would not seek to take control of other areas of Ukraine now that Crimea had officially become a part of Russia.
In his statement, Cantor blasted Putin for “authoritarianism, repression, and corrosive corruption [that] has undermined democracy and resulted in gross human rights abuses.”
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce, R-Calif., earlier on Tuesday called the Crimea secession referendum “bogus” and also signaled an interest in taking additional action against Russia: “If we are serious about challenging Putin’s aggression, the U.S. and our European allies should make an all out effort to break that grip. Exporting U.S. natural gas would have the added benefit of boosting the U.S. economy and creating American jobs.”
Read Cantor’s full statement below:
“Russia has not been a constructive world partner under Vladimir Putin’s leadership, and that intransigence is on display today as it violates Ukraine’s sovereign independence. Putin is an ally to Bashar Assad, protecting him at the UN and even providing military support as he slaughters his own people. On Iran, Russia has blocked consideration of international sanctions resolutions since 2009 and watered down resolutions before then. The notion that Putin can be a reliable partner on arms control is belied by his reported violations of the INF Treaty and utter disregard for other binding international agreements. At home, Putin’s authoritarianism, repression, and corrosive corruption has undermined democracy and resulted in gross human rights abuses. It should come as no surprise that Russia is violating Ukraine’s sovereignty after this track record. Clearly, more steps must be taken to put pressure on Russia, and it is past time we reassess our entire strategy towards a nation that poses an increasing threat to international peace and security.
“The United States has a stake in supporting countries like Ukraine that are threatened by aggressive neighbors, and must restore its role as a defender of liberty. I support the President’s decision to issue sanctions against Russian leaders, but that list must be dramatically expanded to exert real pressure. Next week, the G-7 leaders should decide to revoke Russia’s membership in the G-8. The US should assess what military support we can provide Ukraine and the US must work in concert with its NATO allies to reassure other countries threatened by Russia. We should also assess what support we can give to Ukraine’s energy production and to increase our own exports to weaken Russia’s stranglehold, and put long-term pressure on their economy. I’ve asked House Committees to examine additional steps that can be taken to impose greater costs on Russia, and look forward to working with President Obama and his Administration to confront the brazen challenge to international security posed by President Putin’s aggression.”