Rep. Adam Kinzinger is calling for a major U.S. response to Russia's military strike into Crimea, including urging other nations to freeze the assets of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
In an exclusive interview with Newsmax on Sunday, the Illinois Republican, a two-term congressman and member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said he planned to ask Congress to take a variety of steps to punish the Putin regime for the Crimean invasion on Saturday.
"We are looking at every option now and just how to do this properly," Kinzinger said. Some steps include resolutions passed by Congress, in addition to encouraging other nations to join with the United States in taking action against Moscow.
"And I see strong bipartisan support for any measure that comes before Congress on this issue once [Congress] returns to Washington," Kinzinger said. "I don't see anyone defending Putin right now."
Most significantly, Kinzinger said he wants Congress to urge other countries to freeze Putin's personal assets immediately. That action was taken over the weekend against deposed Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych by the governments of Austria and Switzerland, both of which froze his holdings in their countries.
"Everybody knows of the corrupt money that has gone through Putin's hands," Kinzinger said. "It's time to freeze him out."
Kinzinger also said he would push a resolution urging support for Ukraine's nearby neighbor Georgia's admission into NATO.
Noting that Georgia's last attempt to join NATO was vetoed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Kinzinger said that "the cause is much more serious now. We need to bring Georgia into NATO to help protect its neighbors."
Other measures Kinzinger said Congress should consider would be to pass a resolution urging fellow member nations of the G-8 to expel Russia from the consortium of the world's largest industrial countries and "make it the G-7 again." He also said the United States should "seriously consider recalling our ambassador to Moscow."
"We should hold Russia to the same standards that we did Iraq under Saddam Hussein when it attacked Kuwait in 1991," said the lawmaker. "Now we know we are not going to send in troops to liberate Ukraine, but we can send a message that responsible nations don't attack neighbors."
Kinzinger, a U.S. Air Force veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, was one of a handful of Republican members of Congress urging American action last summer against the Assad regime in Syria.
"I can't emphasize enough on how low U.S. foreign policy fell after Syria," he said, recalling how the president appeared to be supportive of an air strike and then backed down following Putin's encouragement of Assad to open Syria's chemical weapons capabilities to inspection. "After Syria, our status crumbled everywhere, and we were seen as feckless."
Like Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, the ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Kinzinger said he saw striking parallels between what is happening in Ukraine today and what happened in Georgia in 2008.
"Just as it was in Georgia in '08 — when the Russians said they were sending in troops to ensure the 'independence movement' in [South] Ossetia, Russians have now sent troops in under the pretense of protecting Crimeans from the Maidan [the anti-Yanukovych protesters] in Ukraine," he said. "And just as there were in Georgia five years ago, there are 'anti-Fascist committees' starting up in all the key towns in Ukraine to support the Russians.
"We obviously can't march 100,000 U.S. Marines into Ukraine. But by doing everything it can short of a military invasion, Congress can do the right thing."
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.
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