Ayotte: Obama Needs to Lead on Ukraine Now

Image: Ayotte: Obama Needs to Lead on Ukraine Now

Sunday, 23 Feb 2014 01:08 PM

By Greg Richter

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With Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych ousted by his own parliament, it is time for him to step down and for the United States to take a leadership role in helping Ukrainians determine their own future, says Sen. Kelly Ayotte.

The New Hampshire Republican, appearing on "Fox News Sunday," said Ukraine should focus on forming a unity government. Yanukovych has declared the parliament illegitimate and has vowed to keep power. His whereabouts are unknown after his plane was denied takeoff on Saturday en route to Russia.

Parliament has set presidential elections for May 25.

Dozens died in clashes in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev this past week as anti-government protests heated up.

Ayotte, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, warned that America should be keeping an eye on Russia once the Olympic Games in Sochi have ended. Russia is trying to keep Ukraine, a former Soviet republic in its orb. Yanukovych and states on the eastern side of the country tend to favor an alliance with Russia, while those on the west, which borders Europe, favor an alliance with the European Union.

"I believe the president [Obama] needs to up his game and send a clear, unequivocal public message to Putin not to interfere in what is happening in Ukraine," Ayotte told Fox News' Chris Wallace. "What happens in Ukraine very much matters."

Ayotte suggested the United States provide a leadership role in International Monetary Fund and possibly expand the Magnitsky Act. That law barred certain Russian officials from entry to the United States after it was determined they played a role in the imprisonment and death of a lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who was investigating Russian corruption.

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