Republican Senate candidate Matt Bevin suggests the U.S. government should seize Russian assets and remove the foreign super power from international organizations in response to the Ukraine crisis.
The White House has also threatened broader actions against the Russian economy to punish Putin’s move to annex the Crimea region in southern Ukraine.
Speaking to reporters Thursday, Bevin, a former Army captain, said the U.S. has “no business” getting involved militarily.
But he believes the U.S. should use every other financial and diplomatic tool available.
“And that should include not taking a billion dollars of our taxpayer money to support Ukraine,” he says. “How about if we take a billion dollars from accounts belonging to Putin and his allies that are in our banks and in the banks of our allies? Because frankly, they don’t dare to park it in their own country. Let’s seize that money and give a billion of their money to the Ukraine.”
Bevin is seeking to defeat Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell in the GOP primary election.
The Senate is taking up a bipartisan proposal that includes $1 billion in loan agreements to the interim Ukranian government, which is facing financial woes. It’s unclear where McConnell stands on the measure, which passed out of the Foreign Relations Committee and comes before the full Senate next week.
Republicans have been critical of the Obama administration’s handling of the conflict, saying it is a sign of weakness.
Speaking from the Senate floor on March 5, McConnell said lawmakers should support Obama however they can, but the GOP leader still took jabs at the president’s foreign policy.
“Whether it’s recent reports suggesting the Obama administration knew for years about potential Russian violations of the treaty that regulates medium-range missiles, or whether it’s Russia’s refusal to negotiate a reduction in tactical nuclear weapons, its shipment of arms to the Syrian government, or its invasion of Crimea, we can now put to rest for good any notion that the relationship with Russia has been reset,” McConnell said. “President Putin sees himself as the authoritarian ruler of a great power–and one who is determined to preserve his regime. That’s how we should understand him.”
Like most Republicans, McConnell and Bevin appear to agree that Obama hasn’t done enough in the face of Crimea’s annexation. But the Tea Party backed challenger argues the U.S. government should be taking more drastic measure such as pulling Russia’s membership from the World Trade Organization and the G-8.
“Let’s remove Russia from the WTO. Let’s remove Russian from the G-8,” said Bevin. “If you’re going to act in a thuggish, irresponsible way and you’re not going to conduct yourself as someone who is worthy of inclusion in these bodies and on this stage then you will not be invited to be in these bodies and on this stage.”
In response, the Russian government has sanctioned several U.S. officials and lawmakers.