Lawmakers React To Russian Invasion Of Ukraine, Call For More Sanctions

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Michael Ginsberg Congressional Correspondent
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Members of Congress from both parties called on President Joe Biden to sanction Russia and President Vladimir Putin for his invasion of Ukraine early Thursday morning.

Putin announced around 5:30 a.m. local time that his troops would conduct a military operation limited to the Donbas region, but Russian forces began a bombing operation against capital Kyiv and other major cities, according to Senate Intelligence Committee vice chairman Sen. Marco Rubio.

Republican Tennessee Sen. Marsha Blackburn called on the Biden administration to remove Russian banks from the SWIFT system, which allows 11,000 banks in over 200 countries to conduct financial transactions. Although the Biden administration considered removing Russian banks from SWIFT as part of its initial sanctions package, it did not ultimately do so. (RELATED: Senators Fail To Pass Russia Sanctions, Release Bipartisan Statement Instead)

“Putin’s impunity predictably follows our tepid response to his previous horrors in Georgia and Crimea, our naive efforts at a one-sided ‘reset,’ and the shortsightedness of ‘America First,'” Republican Utah Sen. Mitt Romney said.

“The 80’s called,’ and we didn’t answer,” he added, in a reference to his 2012 presidential campaign. At the time, Biden accused Romney of having a “Cold War mentality” that was “out of date,” after Romney said that Russia was the U.S.’s number one geopolitical foe.

Putin and his oligarch stooges should face immediate overwhelming economic consequences for their crimes. Russia is an international rogue state and pariah and should now be treated as one by the entire world,” Democratic New Jersey Rep. Bill Pascrell said.

“I stand ready to exact the most punishing economic costs on Moscow and its leadership that have ever been brought to bear, in concert with our allies. At the same time, we must do all we can to support the Ukrainian people, particularly those who are forced to flee their homes. Innocent civilians should not be trapped in the crosshairs. Russia will continue to pay for its aggression,” Democratic Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley added.

Biden said in a statement that he will meet with the leaders of the six other G7 nations Thursday and announce a sanctions package after the conference. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday night before the invasion that the U.S. would introduce “unprecedented sanctions” that would have a “severe impact” if Russia attempted to take Ukraine.