US lawmakers call for preventive sanctions, Ukraine for weapons to deter Putin

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Washington (AFP) – A group of U.S. lawmakers on Tuesday called for preventative sanctions against Russia and increased arms deliveries to Ukraine, fearing the action so far would deter President Vladimir Putin from invading.

After a weekend visit to Ukraine, the three lawmakers – all military veterans – said they were convinced Putin was serious about an attack, as tens of thousands of soldiers gathered near the Ukrainian border.

“We need to be more concerned with dissuading Putin than provoking him,” Representative Seth Moulton, a Democrat, told reporters.

“If Putin invades, I want him to know that he will have a hard time buying a soda from a vending machine in the next five minutes, not that NATO will convene a conference to discuss what to do next at the over the next few weeks. “

President Joe Biden, in a phone call with Putin last week, warned Russia would face sanctions “unlike any it has ever seen” if Moscow invades Ukraine, which has already fought separatists pro-Russian.

Rep. Mike Waltz, a Republican, said the United States should already impose sanctions in the event of destabilization.

“I think pledging tough action … after an invasion won’t do much in terms of Putin’s calculation,” Waltz said.

He urged the Biden administration to cut red tape and immediately deliver weapons to Ukraine, including air defense missiles.

Representative Ruben Gallego, a Democrat, said Ukraine can deter Putin by convincing him “that an invasion would be bloody and that it would be long and prolonged”.

“It will be an existential threat to his leadership if he suffers such a massive loss,” Gallego added.

Like Biden, lawmakers have ruled out the deployment of US troops.

Putin has stepped up pressure on Ukraine since a 2014 uprising toppled a president who had resisted calls to bring the nation closer to the West.

Putin said on Tuesday that he wanted immediate talks with the United States and NATO over Russia’s security, including guarantees that the Western alliance will not extend to eastern Ukraine.

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