Dan Coats: World, Including Europe, Must Cripple Russia

Wednesday, 23 Jul 2014 03:20 PM

By Bill Hoffmann

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World leaders must take immediate steps to cripple Russia or face more atrocities like the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, Sen. Dan Coats told Newsmax TV on Wednesday.

"This is an incident that has shocked the world, and . . . the fact that the Russians are complicit in this is virtually assured by all the intelligence we have — and yet the Russians continue to deny any responsibility,'' Coats said on "The Steve Malzberg Show.''

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"The world needs to come down with a condemnation so strong and so worldwide that even the Russian propaganda machine can't keep the Russians from understanding and knowing exactly what happened here.''

Coats, a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, is one of the key lawmakers proposing crippling sanctions against Russia until it assumes responsibility for the crash, which killed 298 passengers and crew members a week ago.

"If you let them get away with this with just tough words and not action, then we're going to see more and more of this kind of thing,'' Coats said.

With two Ukrainian fighter planes shot down by Russian separatist rebels, it's clear that Russian President Vladimir Putin has made no moves to stop the carnage.

"He hasn't given any order to stand down and take responsibility, and the reason is that he hears words but he doesn't see actions,'' Coats said.

"There have been minimal sanctions imposed on some of his cronies in terms of their banking rights and so forth and so on, but this is far too little. We need crippling sanctions, the threat of crippling sanctions, and the ability to impose those to cripple their economy.

"When Putin sees that, it'll hopefully get his attention, because obviously any humanitarian plea, any decency plea, even any tough rhetoric about what we threaten to do has not moved Putin an inch, so we've got to make it happen.''

Coats said taking the World Cup soccer tournament away from Moscow is but one of many punishments necessary.

"We have to go after their military exports. They drive a lot of revenue from selling weapons to bad guys all over the world. I have [proposals] . . . in the Senate that put us in a position to deny their sales of military equipment to countries that we deal with," Coats said.

"We can begin to wean Europe off their energy dependence on Russia, and even beginning to take those steps and announcing those steps will drive the message home that we are no longer going to be a long-term customer.

"All of this would drop the Russian stock market, it would impose more economic damage to the fragile Russian economy.''

A ban of Aeroflot flights at airports around the world, which has been proposed by Rep. Peter King of New York, would be another positive step, Coats added.

But he said European leaders still must be convinced to be merciless in dealing with Russia, something that is easier said than done.

"They're recipients of a lot of the Russian export and they've been somewhat tentative and reluctant to do it,'' he said.

"Chancellor [Angela] Merkel of Germany understands this, but she needs to convince her people that if you don't stand up now to this bully in the playground, he's going to keep being a bully.

"You would think Europe, given its history under the thumb of the Third Reich, would see that this history is starting to be repeated and . . . the earlier you address this, the earlier you stand up to it, the less consequences there will be in the future . . . We need to stop Putin before he goes any further.''

On the issue of the U.S.-Mexico border crisis, Coats said President Barack Obama needs to "make a declarative statement that we're going to enforce the law the same way we do with the Canadians and the Mexicans who are on our border, and that is immediate return . . . We have to enforce this or the flood will continue.''

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