- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 4, 2014

Sen. Ron Johnson, a member of the Foreign Relations committee, said Sunday that sanctions against Russia haven’t worked while Eliot Engel, the ranking member on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, said even an implicit threat of Iran-like sanctions has changed the calculus of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Vladimir Putin is only going to respond to action, strength and resolve,” Mr. Johnson, Wisconsin Republican, said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “He’s not going to respond to words, and that’s certainly what we hear when we go over to Ukraine.”

Mr. Engel, New York Democrat, said that sanctions thus far have been “gradual,” and will continue to be.

“I think they’ve affected his behavior,” Mr. Engel said. “I mean, he has all these troops poised at the Ukrainian border and he hasn’t crossed the border yet. I have to think that part of his calculation is that if he does that, all bets are off and sanctions would kick in. Look, I’m for sanctions. I think it’s sanctions that brought Iran to its knees because it hurt their economy and they’re negotiating with us now. And I think Putin has to understand that if he continues this nonsense, sanctions will bring his economy to its knees. His economy right now is floundering.”

President Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel said at a joint news conference Friday that they’re prepared to impose further sanctions on Russia if violence and unrest in Ukraine continues ahead of Ukrainian elections on May 25.

Mr. Obama said the goal of more economic sanctions is “not to punish Russia,” but to persuade Moscow to take a different path moving forward and Mrs. Merkel said the European Union will be united with the U.S. moving forward, but that more sanctions against Russia “is not necessarily what we want.”