Most members of Arkansas’ Congressional delegation on Thursday (Feb. 24) called for stiffer sanctions against Russia and Russian President Vladimir Putin following that country’s invasion of Ukraine. President Joe Biden announced more “sweeping financial sanctions” Thursday afternoon.
After months of threatening the security of Ukraine, Putin invaded the former Soviet republic on Feb. 23 largely under the guise of protecting the “breakaway states” of Luhansk and Donetsk. The two areas are eastern provinces of Ukraine in which Russia has over the years staged separatist troops allied with Russia. Reports suggest Putin’s invasion is being aided by his allies in neighboring Belarus, which is also a former Soviet republic.
As of Thursday afternoon, it remained unclear if Putin would press the invasion to capture the Ukrainian capital city of Kyiv and other major cities in the country. It was also unclear if Putin would stop with capturing Ukraine.
Historians say the military action is the largest in Europe since the last months of World War II.
President Biden’s increased sanctions announced Thursday include:
• Cutting ties between U.S. financial institutions and Sberbank, which holds nearly one-third of all Russian banking assets;
• Placing debt and equity restrictions on 13 of the most critical major Russian enterprises and entities; and,
• Sanctioning 24 Belarusian individuals and entities for their support of the invasion.
“As a result of Putin’s war of choice, Russia will face immediate and intense pressure on its economy, and massive costs from its isolation from the global financial system, global trade, and cutting-edge technology. This includes cutting off Russia’s largest bank from the U.S. financial system – a significant blow to its ability to function and process global trade,” the White House noted in a statement. “It also includes full blocking sanctions on Russia’s second-largest bank – freezing any of its assets touching the U.S. financial system. Russia’s ability to access global markets, attract investment, and utilize the U.S. dollar will be devastated.”
Link here for the complete White House statement on increased sanctions.
U.S. Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., and the state’s senior senator, said Congress should impose sanctions against Russia.
“We pray for the people of Ukraine as their freedom and safety are under grave assault. History will show they have not sought this conflict, but are justified in defending their sovereignty with courage and clarity. When Congress reconvenes, we must and will impose stringent sanctions on Russia – particularly on President Putin, his inner circle and others who benefit from his malicious behavior – in response to this unlawful invasion,” Boozman noted.
On Feb. 15, Boozman and U.S. Sen. James Risch, R-Idaho, introduced the Never Yielding Europe’s Territory (NYET) Act to help Ukraine defend itself, impose sanctions and to prepare against possible future aggression by Russia. Items in the act include:
• $500 million in Foreign Military Financing (FMF) for Ukraine, including $250 million in emergency funding, with $100 million for emergency lethal assistance for critical capabilities like air defense, anti-armor and anti-ship capabilities;
• Creation of a Ukraine Resistance Fund to help the country resist attempts to occupy or subjugate any new territory Russia seizes;
• Expediting Congressional review of arms sales and security assistance to Ukraine;
• Doubling of funding for U.S. military exercises in Europe; and
• Creation of a new State Department FMF program for Eastern Europe to help European allies strengthen defensive capabilities and incentivize greater burden-sharing.
Following are statements from other members of Arkansas’ Congressional delegation.
U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark.
“Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked, naked war of aggression must face the most severe consequences. I urge President Biden to finally impose these consequences. And I join all Arkansans in praying for the safety of innocent Ukrainians.”
U.S. Rep. Steve Womack, R-Rogers
“Weakness inflames evil. Putin has launched an unprovoked war against Ukraine. The forcible invasion and attack of a sovereign nation is illegal and a dangerous affront to the international community. America, Europe, and NATO must confront these actions with strong, swift, and decisive consequences. The red line of standing up for freedom—and for our allies like Ukraine—cannot be allowed to vanish. We must stand unequivocally with the Ukrainian people.”
U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford, R-Jonesboro
“Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is despicable, and must be met with strong sanctions, but it is not a surprise. Putin has been very clear about his intentions to create a buffer around Russia with nations he can dominate and keep under his effective control. Putin’s aggression should also act as a reminder that when tyrants threaten the security of the United States or our allies, we should take them at their word, whether coming from China, Iran, Russia, or elsewhere. That means we need a strong and focused military, a vibrant economy, and energy independence, to protect our national interests.”