WASHINGTON (AP) — Two members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee called Sunday for beefing up western sanctions against Russia to include its petrochemical and banking industries and warned that Moscow thus far has ignored United States and European efforts to persuade it to back off its confrontation with Ukraine.
"We've helped in many ways to create the problems that exist there. And to leave them alone in the manner that we're leaving them alone to me is just unconscionable," Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, the committee's senior Republican member, said on NBC's "Meet the Press."
"I don't think Putin really believes we're going to punish them in that way," he said.
Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., a member of the same committee, said, "I think the time is now to rapidly ratchet up our sanctions, whether it's on Russian petrochemical companies or on Russian banks."
"If Russia does get away with this, I do think that there's a potential that a NATO ally is next. And, yes, there will be economic pain to Europe (under tightened sanctions). But it's time for them to lead as well."
President Barack Obama has said his administration is prepared to take further action against Russia if diplomatic efforts to destabilize the conflict fail.
Vice President Joe Biden is flying to Kiev, the Ukrainian capital, on Monday. Biden's office announced Sunday night that he would meet Tuesday with Arseniy Yatsenyuk and Oleksandr Turchynov, the acting Ukrainian prime minister and president, and legislators from the Rada, Ukraine's parliament. Biden also plans to meet with democracy activists before returning to Washington Tuesday night.