At a hearing to examine developments in Ukraine, U.S. Senator Bob Corker, R-Tenn., ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today said the "hollow" threats of tougher U.S. sanctions against Russia resemble the Obama administration's decision not to enforce a red line in Syria after the Assad regime used chemical weapons.
"I really feel like the sanctions threats have been very hollow .[and] have some of the same characteristics of the "red line' in Syria, and I certainly hope that changes soon," said Corker. "I worry that we're going to have a bitter peace with Russia--where, in essence, we sweep under the rug the actions that have taken place in Crimea and continue to take place in Eastern Ukraine, and we basically get back to business as usual which over time could lead to some more major consequences in eastern Europe and the world," added Corker.
He also warned of the damage to U.S. credibility when the administration is unwilling to back up its words with action, not only in Ukraine, but throughout the world.
"I think our country acting like such a paper tiger to the world on this and so many other fronts is doing incredible long-term damage to our nation, and I do hope at some point the administration will actually follow through on the things it continues to tout publicly," said Corker.
Despite Russia's persistent destabilization of eastern Ukraine, the administration's triggers for stronger sanctions have been repeatedly crossed without further action beyond the limited sanctions imposed against certain individuals. Meanwhile, the Russian stock market is up 22 percent since March, and Ukraine has made good faith efforts to broker a peace agreement, including a voluntary ceasefire, that has been met with continued violence by Russian-backed separatists.
Senator Corker introduced legislation in April as a strategic response to Russian aggression in Europe that would strengthen the NATO alliance, impose tough sanctions to deter further Russian aggression, and provide support to non-NATO partners of Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia. This spring, Corker traveled to Ukraine and met with Petro Poroshenko to discuss the future of the country. He also visited Estonia, Romania and Poland to discuss bilateral relations with the U.S and to reemphasize the U.S. commitment to Europe following Russia's destabilizing actions in Ukraine.