While Congress continues to call for tough sanctions on Russia over its maneuvers in Ukraine, the Obama administration is making the situation worse by failing to act, says Rep. Ed Royce, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Speaking to Newsmax TV's John Bachman on "America's Forum" Friday, the California Republican said, "Of course, as the White House talks, Russian aggression continues. So the important point is Congress going on record with a message that we want to advance financial and economic and diplomatic leverage through these sanctions.
"And I'll add one other thing, and that is expanding natural gas, gas from the United States into the markets in Western Europe and in Ukraine in order to break the monopoly that Russia has there."
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As for what is happening in the Democratic-controlled Senate with regard to Ukraine, Royce said, "When it comes to foreign policy, and foreign policy is largely bipartisan, it's pretty aggressive in the attitude of sending a powerful message to Russia, telling Russia it has a lot to lose, and trying to put in place policies that will do just that. But the administration, they talk but there's no action there and so as a consequence, I don't think that Putin takes the US all that seriously."
Royce, who has served in Congress since 1993, currently represents California's 39th Congressional District and previously represented the 40th district.
He said he things some steps are necessary for Russia to reconsider. "My hope is that with us taking these actions, and with the European council yesterday taking some additional actions, we might be able to ratchet up the pressure to the point where Russia thinks what are the consequences, what are the consequences to the oligarchs.
Clearly, if we freeze their assets in Western banks, that's a consequence. The U.S. Treasury can start to investigate money laundering from Russia into banks in the west. That's a consequence. But unless we're prepared to do that, I don't know what causes the Russians to recalibrate and change their conduct," he explained.
Royce also dismissed Russia's threats to take action against the West's financial interests, saying, "The goal is to have enough leverage to send in an emissary. I would suggest that maybe we pick somebody like [German] Chancellor Merkel, who can speak Russian and also has a Thatcherite, a Margaret Thatcher quality to her in terms of being ... a hard bargainer.
"Send in somebody to talk to Putin himself and to say, 'All right, these are the cards we're holding. You can see how much more you have to lose than we. You already see what's happened to the Russian ruble, you see what's happened to your stock market in Moscow.'"
"If we get cooperation with Russia, here's the way we wind it down, here's the exit ramp for this crisis. That's probably the approach that would give us the highest likelihood of success," he added.
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