Members of Michigan’s congressional delegation are hopeful that U.S. and European Union sanctions will put enough pressure on Russia to change what’s been happening in Crimea.
President Barack Obama says new U.S. sanctions imposed on Russian officials make it clear "that there are consequences for their actions" in Crimea and he's warning that the U.S. stands ready to impose further sanctions if necessary.
The president stressed that the government has the authority to go after officials in the Russian arms sector and those who support Russian cronies if the government doesn't pursue a diplomatic solution to the crisis in Ukraine.
Obama today froze the U.S. assets of seven Russian officials for their support of Crimea's vote to secede from Ukraine in the most comprehensive sanctions against Russia since the end of the Cold War. The U.S. Treasury Department also is imposing sanctions on four Ukrainians involved in the separatist effort.
European Union foreign ministers also imposed new sanctions today, slapping travel bans and asset freezes on 21 people they have linked to the push for the secession and possible annexation of Ukraine's Crimean peninsula.
U.S. Sen. Carl Levin, D-Michigan, is the chairman of the Senate Armed Services committee. Levin says he hopes the sanctions will be effective.
“Russia has acted in a way that is totally unacceptable. You can’t change the boundaries of nations by force,” said Levin. He hopes other nations will band together “to make Russia pay a price for what they have done.”
“Sanctions are going to take a bite,” said U.S. Congressman Mike Rogers, R-Brighton, the chairman of the House Intelligence committee. “This is a critical time for the Russian Federation. They are going to suffer economically for this … Now the question is how long can they hold out with that economic punishment?”
U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Michigan, says sanctions are important. “We need to support free and open elections.” Stabenow said the big question is: “What will happen in the rest of the Ukraine?”
Michigan Congressman Dave Camp, R-Midland, says U.S. loans to the Ukrainian government and taking steps to promote our own energy independence are important as well.
“Clearly, there needs to be a response to what Russia’s trying to do,” said Camp. He worries Russia might next move to gain control of the eastern part of Ukraine, which has a large ethnic-Russian population.