GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — All three West Michigan members of Congress say the latest round of sanctions on Russia, put forth by President Joe Biden and allies, are not strong enough and they want to see Russian President Vladimir Putin face direct consequences for his invasion of Ukraine.
“I think it's just been sickening, as we have watched this escalation, frankly, just continue unabated,” U.S. Rep Peter Meijer (R-Grand Rapids) said in an interview with FOX 17 Thursday.
Meijer says President Biden and American allies need to issue, “Devastating, crippling economic sanctions, the full weight of our non-military force being brought to bear to bring Russia back in line and make them suffer the consequences of their aggression against Ukraine,” Meijer said.
The sanctions levied Thursday include blocking assets of large Russian banks, imposing export controls and sanctioning Russian oligarchs who have funds outside of the country.
Notably missing, says Meijer, are direct sanctions on Russian president Vladimir Putin and his family.
“Now is the time for consequences, now is the time to make sure that Putin walks away realizing he miscalculated, he made a mistake. Because if he doesn't feel that, if he feels that this was a cost worth paying to seize Ukraine, then we are in a very, very dark and dangerous moment, even more so,” Meijer added.
U.S. Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-Zeeland) echoing the sentiment, while also calling to remove Russia from SWIFT, an international banking message system.
“We believe that Vladimir Putin has stolen and skimmed off hundreds of millions, if not more in money that is literally around the world. So we should be using this banking system to not only go after him, but go after others within Russian government as well as the oligarchs that run the country,” Huizenga said.
Huizenga and other Republicans say President Biden should also make a commitment to becoming energy independent.
“Every dollar that that oil goes up in a price per barrel means more money in Vladimir Putin's pocket, which allows him to then sustain any other kind of sanctions, because oil is bought and purchased and traded in US dollars around the world,” Huizenga said. “When we see that price go up, it literally is enabling Russia to do this kind of action and so that's why we need to battle down that price per barrel and we need to send the signal to the world.”
Congressman Fred Upton (R-St. Joseph also calling for stiffer penalties, including going after Russia’s energy sector. “Not nearly enough!” Upton tweeted in reference to the latest round of sanctions levied on Russia. “President Biden needs to fight fire with fire and go for the jugular. Go after their energy sector, cut off SWIFT and directly seize Putin and his cronies’ assets."