- The Washington Times - Monday, March 17, 2014

Sen. John Barrasso said Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk told him over the weekend that the country is in desperate need of international assistance and is wielding a decimated, virtually nonexistent military as Crimean voters overwhelmingly chose to secede from the country and align with Russia.

“They need help, they need assistance, they need sanctions, they need freezing of assets; their military is quite hollowed out because the former leader was really a puppet for Putin,” Mr. Barrasso, Wyoming Republican, said Monday on MSNBC’s “The Daily Rundown.”

“So, as the prime minister told me: What they have in their military — nothing flies, nothing shoots, nothing works. They’re going to need assistance all around, and they’re going to need a world community to show strength against Putin who only recognizes strength, and I believe he doesn’t know what he is going to do yet.”

“I believe he is calculating the credibility of his opponents on a daily basis,” Mr. Barrasso continued.

The Associated Press reported Monday that European Union foreign ministers have imposed travel bans and asset freezes on 21 people related to the Ukrainian unrest.

President Obama has also issued an executive order authorizing the U.S. government to impose sanctions on seven specific Russian government officials and “any individual or entity that operates in the Russian arms industry, and any designated individual or entity that acts on behalf of, or that provides material or other support to, any senior Russian government official.”

Mr. Barrasso said sanctions are important, but that long-term, exporting U.S. energy exports to Europe would help undercut Russia’s hold on Ukraine.

“We have to undercut Russia’s ability to charge exorbitant prices — over four times as much for natural gas as we pay in the United States because the market is so limited,” he said. “And remember: The first thing the Russians seized before the election started on Saturday night was the natural gas facility in the Ukraine.”

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