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Republicans, Democrats Demand ‘Crippling’ Sanctions After Russia Invades Eastern Ukraine

(Andrew Harnik-Pool/Getty Images) (Alex Brandon-Pool/Getty Images)

Michael Ginsberg Congressional Reporter
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Elected officials on both sides of the aisle are urging the Biden administration to introduce massive sanctions on leading Russian political figures and the country’s economy in the wake of President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of eastern Ukraine.

Putin announced Monday that he would recognize and send troops into Luhansk and Donetsk, two oblasts that declared independence after Russian-backed militias seized government buildings. During his speech announcing the recognition of Luhansk and Donetsk as independent republics, Putin claimed that Ukraine and several other countries in eastern Europe were “completely created” by the Soviet Union, a historical interpretation that some analysts viewed as creating a pretext for war.

Describing the announcement as “an act of unprovoked aggression and a brazen violation of international law,” Democratic New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez called on “the Biden administration and our European allies” to impose “crushing sanctions.”

The Biden Administration and our allies must impose full set of crippling sanctions now,” Republican Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney tweeted.

The Biden administration announced sanctions Monday night against Donetsk and Luhansk that prohibit Americans from investing in the regions. An administration official, however, suggested that additional sanctions would only be implemented if Russia were to “further invade” Ukraine. Some critics, including Republican Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton, blasted the move as inadequate.

The time has come for the ‘swift and severe’ sanctions that Joe Biden has long threatened but refused to impose. There is not a minute to lose,” Cotton tweeted.

“We must swiftly join our NATO allies and partners in the European Union to impose forceful new sanctions on Russia, on all those responsible for this dangerous violation of international law, and to provide emergency support for Ukraine,” Democratic Delaware Sen. Chris Coons added. (RELATED: Senators Fail To Pass Russia Sanctions, Release Bipartisan Statement Instead)

Despite President Biden’s promise that the U.S. would sanction the NordStream 2 pipeline in the event of an invasion, he did not do so, and Germany stopped the project Tuesday. White House press secretary Jen Psaki claimed that the U.S. would “be following up with our own measures.”

Republican Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey called on Congress to pass the NYET Act, which would sanction Russian banks and those that do business with them. It would also fund lethal aid to Ukraine and American military exercises with regional allies.

The State Department ordered all U.S. Embassy personnel, relocated from Kyiv to Lviv on Feb. 14, to shelter in Poland ahead of a potential invasion of the western part of Ukraine. The Biden administration has reportedly discussed plans to move Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to Lviv should Russian troops advance toward the capital.