Although there have been some reports that Russian President Vladimir Putin may be pulling back some of the troops and equipment he has amassed along the Russian border with Ukraine, the Biden White House is continuing to say the threat of invasion of Ukraine is “imminent.” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said he is unconvinced that Putin will invade and Joe Biden should stop “pushing back” against bipartisan proposals from Congress for immediate sanctions.
Graham said he is convinced that Congress can and should do more to address the situation. He said that there had been a bipartisan effort for about three weeks to develop proposals for pre-invasion sanctions in addition to post-invasion sanctions. He added that there had been consistent pushback from the White House, leading him to believe the best course for Congress is to pass a separate sanctions package.
He said that such a package could include a “waiver” if they are imposed before an invasion. Still, in the event of an invasion, automatic additional sanctions would be triggered that would “cripple the Russian economy.” Graham added that he believes there are sufficient votes in the Senate to create a sanctions package, although he is unsure about support for “secondary punitive measures.”
Graham went on to say that it is insufficient to “sanction a Russian bank.” He said that effective sanctions should hit any person or entity that does business with the Russian banks. “We need a robust set of sanctions regarding the SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications) program,” Graham added, saying that it is essential to eliminate the “cash cow” for Putin.
He added that Putin should face sanctions that would let him know his relationship to the US has changed forever, in as much as Biden is not going to be “the last President.” He stressed that Putin must know that an invasion would destroy relations between Russia and America “for decades.”
Graham said that White House warnings that invasion is imminent should be contrasted with the fact that they are not “telling Putin with clarity” what will happen to him if he does. He added that Putin is paying no price at all for his aggressive actions in building up troops along the border, and he should “be punished now.”