Reid: US Should Wait 'A While' Before Taking Action on Ukraine

Monday, 03 Mar 2014 05:26 PM

By Jason Devaney

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The United States should wait before taking action regarding the crisis in Ukraine, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said on Monday.

With Russian military forces surrounding military bases in Crimea, Ukraine, Reid suggested the U.S. “should just play this out for a while.”

“The most important thing is for us — the United States — to make sure that we don’t go off without the European community,” Reid said, according to Politico.  “We have to work with them. Their interests are really paramount if we are going to do sanctions of some kind. We have to have them on board with us.”

Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin, demanded that Ukrainian forces leave Crimea by 10 p.m. ET Monday. If they refuse, “a military storm would commence,” Russia's state-run news agency Interfax reported.

Politico reported that Reid, (D-Nev.) has met with White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough and was scheduled to receive a briefing from CIA director John Brennan before the Russian deadline.

Reid said any U.S. involvement in the conflict could be in the form of financial sanctions. He added that getting anything accomplished in Congress, however, would be difficult due to the gridlock that has stricken the Capitol building.

“We couldn’t do congressional action if we wanted, we can’t get in the damn building,” Reid said.

Washington isn’t the only place where officials are attempting to make progress in the ongoing conflict that threatens the stability of Russia and Eastern Europe. The United Nations Security Council planned to meet on Monday, while European Union leaders held emergency meetings.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will travel to Kiev Tuesday and will try to diffuse the situation before it reaches a boiling point.  During an appearance on Sunday’s Meet the Press, Kerry laid out some possible sanctions the U.S. could impose on Russia if the conflict continues.

“There could even be ultimately asset freezes, visa bans,” Kerry said. “There could be certainly a disruption of any of the normal trade routine, and there could be business drawback on investment in the country. The ruble is already going down and feeling the impact of this.”

Republican leaders have also chimed in with opinions on how to handle the crisis.

Foreign Relations Committee member Bob Corker of Tennessee suggested Congress should “consider targeted sanctions against Russian persons and entities that undermine the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina took it a step further: “I would fly the NATO flag as strongly as I could around Putin. I would suspend his membership in the G-8, be the G-7. The G-20 would become the G-19 at least for a year. And every day he stays in the Ukraine, I would add to it.”

The threat of any U.S. action — military or otherwise — could cause a rift between the U.S. and Russia, whose relations have been frosty of late. And if sanctions are imposed, Putin could shut off the flow of natural gas to several U.S. allies in Europe.

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