Ohio lawmakers lashed out Monday at Russia sending thousands of troops into a section of Ukraine with House Speaker John Boehner calling Russian President Vladimir Putin a “thug.’’
Although Republicans assailed President Barack Obama’s handling of relations with Putin’s Russia, lawmakers from both parties were angry with Putin and would support at least tough economic penalties against Russia.
“Russia must respect Ukraine’s sovereignty and immediately withdraw its troops from Ukrainian soil,’’ said Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio. “The United States and international community should utilize all diplomatic and economic options to address this act of aggression and secure the rights and borders of Ukraine.”
In an interview with the Cincinnati Enquirer, Boehner, R-West Chester Twp., said that “it’s time to stand up to Putin. At what point do you say enough is enough? We’re at that point.’’
Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Niles, said that “all Americans should be aware that Russia can be a potentially dangerous player,’’ adding that this type of behavior is unacceptable and the world community must intervene in a firm and pragmatic way.’’
“Secretary of State John Kerry has suggested actions including asset freezes, visa bans, a disruption of trade, and a slowdown in business investments in Russia,’’ Ryan said. “I will support any of these measures in pushing Putin to withdraw his troops.”
Rep. Steve Stivers, R-Upper Arlington, urged that Obama “pursue an immediate, internationally-coordinated economic response which will isolate Russia,’’ suggesting that the U.S. and its NATO allies accelerate a timeline to admit both Ukraine and another former Soviet Republic, Georgia, into the NATO alliance.
Columbus area Democratic Rep. Joyce Beatty adopted a more measured tone, saying she was “troubled by the Russian military escalation’’ in the Ukraine, and called for “a dialogue through diplomatic means’’ to uphold Ukraine’s sovereignty.
Some Ohio Republicans complained that Putin simply does not take Obama’s threats of retaliation seriously. They pointed to Obama’s reluctance to adopt a firm stance when Russia’s ally — Syrian President Bashar al-Assad — used chemical weapons against his own people.
“There is no doubt that President Obama is approaching this crisis in the Ukraine with a weakened hand,’’ said Rep. Pat Tiberi, a suburban Columbus Republican. “His handling of the Syrian situation, where he drew a line but enforced no consequences when the line was crossed, has diminished his credibility on the world stage.’’
In an appearance on Fox News Monday, Rep. Mike Turner, D-Dayton, said Obama needs to “strengthen the military, not reduce it” and put a stop to budget cuts that he says are emboldening Putin to be “adventuresome.”
“We’re being perceived, rightly so, at this time being weaker than we normally are,” Turner said.
In his interview with the Enquirer, Boehner said foreign officials he talks to “are just dismayed that America is not leading. When we don’t lead and we’re not strong it allows the weak leaders around the world to take advantage of their neighbors.’’
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