The Washington Post

Senators blast Obama’s Russia sanction policy as public opinion of Russia plunges


Russian President Vladimir Putin listens during a meeting with members of the Public Chamber in Moscow’s Kremlin on July 9, 2014. (Mikhail Klimentyev/RIA Novosti Kremlin-Presidential Press Service via AP)

Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland, of “F— the E.U.” fame, received an earful from the top Democrat and Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee over the Obama administration’s lack of action against Russia.

With the European Union pondering sanctions next week, Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) asked Nuland at a hearing Wednesday what will happen if the E.U. doesn’t come to a conclusion?

“Then will we have the summer lapse and Putin will know that there’s no consequences and the United States will stay on the sidelines, waiting for the Europeans? Is that something that we could actually expect?” he asked. He twice asked, “What are we waiting for?”

Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), the ranking Republican on the committee, was even harsher in his assessment.

“I have to say sometimes I’m embarrassed for you as you constantly talk about sanctions and yet, candidly, we never see them put in place,” Corker said. Corker also called the White House’s policy “feckless,” and suggested that foreign service officers must “feel like resigning, when you’re put out there to continue to sort of sound tough but know that nothing’s really going to happen.”

Nuland said the administration prefers to move forward on a next round of sanctions in coordination with the Europeans. The U.S. imposed some sanctions earlier this year on several wealthy Russian businessmen, and Nuland said it is prepared to do more “very soon if Russia does not decisively change course … ”

It should come as very little surprise that being tough on Vladimir Putin would find bipartisan support. Hating on Russia is something most Americans, if not most of the world, can get behind. This year, with tensions mounted, global disdain for Russia increased exponentially as shown here:

PG-2014-07-09-russia-favorability-01

A global public poll conducted from March 17 through early June by Pew Research Center also found that opinions about Putin have also declined dramatically, with most Americans and Europeans having no confidence in him. Only Greece is anywhere close to be being split in their views.

PG-2014-07-09-russia-favorability-03

But at least one American isn’t too sour on Russia. NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has asked for another year of asylum there … though it’s not as if he has a a lot of other attractive options.

Colby Itkowitz is the lead anchor of the Inspired Life blog. She previously covered the quirks of national politics and the federal government.

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