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After Disputed E. Ukraine Votes, US Focuses on May 25 Poll

Washington Focuses on May 25 Ukraine Electioni
May 11, 2014 7:45 PM
As some eastern Ukrainians vote on possible independence from Kyiv, VOA's Michael Bowman reports that much of Washington remains focused on the country’s May 25 national elections.
Michael Bowman
Referendums went forward Sunday in eastern Ukraine in two regions seeking possible independence from Kyiv, despite widespread statements condemning the votes as illegal and illegitimate. The controversial votes were held as Ukraine prepares for a nationwide poll on May 25 to elect a new president.

Adding to the tension is that there is no sign Russian President Vladimir Putin is making good on last week’s promise to withdraw troops from the Ukrainian border, said U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.

“They are not leaving as far as we can tell.  You would have to ask President Putin as to why he says they are leaving, when in fact they are not,” Hagel said on ABC's This Week news program.

Sanctions imposed by the United States and its NATO allies do not appear to have altered Moscow’s aggressive posture toward Ukraine.

“Russia continues to isolate itself for a short term gain.  The Russians may feel that somehow they are winning. But the world is not just about short term,” Hagel added.

Senator Kelly Ayotte, a Republican, wants the United States to target entire sectors of the Russian economy before Ukraine’s presidential elections May 25.

“This is the same playbook that we saw in Crimea playing out in eastern Ukraine.  It is an insurgency-type action by the Russians to create unrest,” Ayotte said.

“It is time for the administration to issue the sectoral sanctions before the [May 25] elections, so those elections will not be disrupted, so they can go forward.  I believe issuing the sanctions when the elections are interfered with are too late,” she said.

Senator Lindsey Graham, also a Republican, wants President Barack Obama to seek formal congressional approval of further punitive measures against Russia.

“Instead of doing this by executive order, Mr. President, come to the Congress and see if you could get bipartisan buy-in (support) for sectoral sanctions, which would send a stronger message to Putin.  It would hurt the Russian economy more, and I think it would bolster our allies,” Graham said.

Senator Chris Murphy, a Democrat, agrees Russia must pay a heavier price, but says the United States cannot do it alone.

“I think we should be pushing the Europeans hard for sectoral-based sanctions,” Murphy said.

“The fact is, the United States acting unilaterally on sanctions may harm our security interests, not advance them.  U.S. sanctions alone are not enough to change the calculus on the ground in Moscow. And ultimately they may give political impetus to Putin within Russia to continue his provocations,” he added.

Late Saturday, the Obama administration restated its threat to “impose greater costs on Russia", but did not say when it might do so.

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Comment Sorting
by: peter from: montreal
May 12, 2014 10:59 PM
Guys let's not forget who is the real terrorist here...
yeah we can piss on the russians but
think about Tunisia , egypt ,libya , irak , afghanistan , syria ,
venezuela , north korea , iran , pakistan , yemen , shall i go on?
when you live in a glasshouse dont throw stones at the neighbours...

by: James McQuaid from: Lansing, MI
May 12, 2014 9:57 AM
The Russians are pathetic and disgusting; still bitching because the Serbs weren't allowed to carry out mass murder. These criminals have no shame or semblance of decency.

by: Wiktor Protsenko from: Kyiv
May 12, 2014 8:27 AM
In its unannounced war against Ukraine, Russia relies on covert operations which fall squarely within the definition of "international terrorism" under 18 U.S.C. § 2331.
Specifically, armed operatives of Russia, acting under disguise, attempt to influence the policy of Ukrainian government by intimidation or coercion. They also try to affect the conduct of a government by assassinations and kidnapping, taking by force government buildings, police posts and military bases of Ukraine.
This activity is being conducted on large scale and over prolonged time period, despite condemnation by the USA, G-7, NATO, EU and UN.
Please sign the petition urging the White House to officially designate Russia as "State sponsor of terrorism” -
Such status of country would outlaw business of American companies with Russia. Even considering of the petition by Senate and President of USA creating great inconvenience Russian authorities.

May 12, 2014 5:25 AM
The May 25th referendum is illegal because it is held by an illegal government in Kiev, which is not recognized my many Ukrainians.

by: meanbill from: USA
May 11, 2014 11:26 PM
(The US, EU, used the NATO Charter, (created phony NATO rules overriding the UN Charter?), to bypass the UN Security Council, and forced Yugoslavia to give up their sovereign land, to create KOSOVO?) -- and Kosovo isn't recognized by a lot of countries either, is it?
NOW, Russia will use the same NATO rules, (for humanitarian reasons), to protect the Donetsk and Luhansk independent states, and people, from attacks on their (now) sovereign territory by the illegal pro-western Kiev coup leaders? -- "The Art of War" ..

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