Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut said Monday the weekend referendums on autonomy for Ukraine's eastern provinces were a "farce" and a "charade."
The votes in Donetsk and Luhansk, swiftly thrown together by pro-Russian separatists, would be laughable if "the subject were not so consequential," the Democrat told MSNBC's "Jansing & Co."
While the Kremlin said it respected the will of the Ukrainian voters, the West has rejected the referendums as a hasty attempt by separatists to undermine the central government in Kiev and foment more unrest in the former Soviet republic.
"The elections themselves are meaningless in a legal sense, but the United States ought to be pursuing stronger sanctions against Russia," beginning with exports of certain helicopters to the Afghans, "bought with American taxpayer dollars," Mr. Blumenthal said.
Acting Ukrainian President Oleksandr Turchynov has accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of trying to disrupt a May 25 presidential election in Ukraine by solidifying Russia's occupation of the newly annexed Crimea peninsula and causing trouble along the eastern border.
"I'd pay attention to what Putin does, not what he says," Mr. Blumenthal told MSNBC. "He is just totally untrustworthy and whatever he says ought to be taken with a huge grain of salt."
Meanwhile Mr. Putin, who has painted the separatist movement in Ukraine as the will of people who live there, found time over the weekend to score an unusually high number of goals — six of them — in a showcase hockey game.
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