- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 31, 2014

The chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said Sunday that eastern Ukraine is under direct attack by Russia and that Western allies should seriously consider military assistance, although not troops on the ground, to repel President Vladimir Putin’s designs in the region.

If the U.S. and its allies cannot stand up to Russia, “then what do we say to China in the South China Sea? What do we say to Iran as it seeks nuclear weapons?” said Sen. Robert Menendez, New Jersey Democrat.

“This is a direct invasion by Russia,” he told CNN’s “State of the Union.” “It’s not rebels, it’s Russian soldiers.”

Pressure is mounting on the West to address Russian encroachment into Ukraine, although there is disagreement about whether the incursions constitute a direct invasion.

Speaking from Kiev, the Ukrainian capital, Mr. Menendez said there is no risk in pushing back against Mr. Putin.mA display of weakness would only embolden the long-time Russian leader, he argued.

He said Mr. Putin will only be swayed by economic consequences of sanctions on his country and Russian mothers saying, “What is happening here?” when troops come back from Ukraine in body bags.