Oklahoma Delegation Pushes For Sanctions Against Russia

Thursday, February 17th 2022, 5:20 pm


With Russia’s military presence along the Ukrainian border showing no sign of diminishing, members of Congress are intent on sending an unambiguous warning to President Vladimir Putin that crippling sanctions will be coming if he invades his neighbor.

President Biden and high-ranking members of his administration have said as much in direct talks with their Russian counterparts, but Republican Senators believe those messages fall short of the deterrent action that’s needed. 

“What we are recommending is primary and secondary sanctions on them,” said Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) in an interview Wednesday, “so not just where Russians do business with United States, but anyone who does business with Russia also gets those sanctions — it sends a clear signal worldwide that if you want to do business with Russia or you can do business with America, but you can’t do both.”

On Tuesday, Senate leadership issued a bipartisan statement of support for Ukraine along with a warning to Russia, but so far Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has not moved actual sanctions legislation, with Democrats and Republicans unable to agree on the specifics.

As a result, on Wednesday, Republicans introduced their own legislation, calling it the "Never Yielding Europe's Territory -- NYET -- Act. It would immediately halt construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline to Germany, and threaten sanctions on major Russian banks, as well as any bank that does business with those banks. It would also, they say, sanction Putin's "cronies" and "enablers."

"If we were able to make a very clear statement and Europe aligns with us on that as well," said Lankford, "we believe that allows Putin one more opportunity to be able to hesitate and to say, 'I know what the consequences are if I cross over that border.'"

According to U.S. and European intelligence, instead of beginning to withdraw troops, as Russian President Putin stated earlier this week, Russia is actually heightening preparations for an assault.

President Biden told reporters this morning the likelihood of a Russian invasion is "very high."

"We have reason to believe that they are engaged in a false flag operation to have an excuse to go in," said the president.

Oklahoma Senator Jim Inhofe has received all the classified briefings.

"I'm very concerned," Sen. Inhofe told reporters this week, "and we are gonna do what we can."

"We think we should do everything we can diplomatically, economically, along with sanctions," said Lankford, "to be able to focus in and keep a war from ever starting."

Vice President Kamala Harris is headed to Munich Friday where she’s expected to meet with Ukrainian President Zelensky and European leaders to discuss a path to de-escalation, as well as possible sanctions, in the event they can’t find a path to de-escalation.