As Russian troops move further into Ukraine, the Obama administration is preparing to hit the Russian economy and the Putin regime with another round of sanctions.
The Daily Beast reports that Russian troops seized government buildings in eastern Ukrainian cities over the weekend. The U.S. State Department issued a statement Saturday characterizing the movements of Russian troops in Ukraine as “orchestrated and synchronized” and were ”similar to previous attacks in eastern Ukraine and Crimea.”
When Russia annexed the Ukrainian region of Crimea last month, the Obama administration and key European allies were quick to put economic sanctions and banking restrictions in place that targeted key members of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s leadership. Now there is a divide between the European countries and the United States as to whether the overall economy of Russia should be targeted with further sanctions or if more action should be taken against members of the Russian leadership.
“The U.S. government is ready to go, we have all kinds of options that have been developed,” said one U.S. official. “The European view is that sectorial economic sanctions should be limited to respond to an outright Russian military invasion of Eastern Ukraine.”
Even so, White House officials say sanctions could be put in place as early as Tuesday.
Whether more sanctions are put in place or not, Sen. John McCain said over the weekend that the Obama administration isn’t doing enough to support Ukraine. He favors stepping up sanctions but also supplying the Eastern European country with small arms.
"We ought to at least, for God's sake, give them some light weapons with which to defend themselves. So far, this administration's not only not done that, but they won't even share some intelligence with the Ukrainian government," McCain said on Face the Nation.
McCain’s harshest criticism was directed at President Barack Obama, who, he believes, is not being firm enough when dealing with Putin. He attacked the the president’s notion of “off-ramps” from the crisis or looking for ways to deescalate the situation. According to McCain, Putin isn’t interested in the “off-ramps.”
"Right now he's going full speed ahead down the freeway. And there's no tangible evidence of him having to pay a significant penalty,” he said. ”Where is the president of the United States? Shouldn't the president of the United States be speaking forcefully and strongly? And didn't the president say if they carried out further actions, there would be further sanctions? So far, we haven't heard anything.”
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power told ABC News Sunday that those sanctions were coming.
"I think we've seen that the sanctions can bite," she said. "And if actions like the kind that we've seen over the last few days continue, you're going to see a ramping up of those sanctions."