CAPITOL HILL — As tensions escalate in Ukraine, a number of U.S. lawmakers are calling on Washington to do more to help protect the people of Ukraine from a possible Russian invasion after Moscow's recent annexation of the Crimean peninsula.
In the U.S. House of Representatives, the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Buck Mckeon, and Representative Mike Turner introduced new legislation condemning Russian aggression in Ukraine and calling on the Obama administration to take more decisive action.
Chairman Mckeon said he believes Russia is provoking unrest in eastern Ukraine to create a reason to invade. He outlined new legislation which would condemn any further action by Russia, and go further than providing economic aid to Ukraine. Republican congressman Mike Turner explained:
"We should be providing technical assistance, both in understanding for Ukraine as to what they are facing with the Russian threat, but also military advice as to how they position and utilize their military as they look to oppose the forces that they are facing from Russia," said Turner.
At an earlier hearing Tuesday, Derek Chollet, the U.S. assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs, told the committee that, in response to a request from the Ukrainian government, 300,000 meals ready to eat, or MREs, have been delivered to the Ukrainian military. Several lawmakers said this is not enough in the face of threats from Russia.
On the Senate side of the U.S. Capitol, Secretary of State John Kerry told a hearing that President Barack Obama is preparing a far tougher series of sanctions if Russia does not step back from what he calls its "clear and unmistakable involvement" in destabilizing eastern Ukraine.
In early April, the U.S. Congress already approved a bill calling for $1 billion in loan guarantees to Ukraine and new sanctions on Russia over its annexation of Crimea.