Sen. Menendez: ‘Expel the Current Kremlin Leadership From the International Community’

Patrick Goodenough | February 24, 2022 | 1:47am EST
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Vladimir Putin has been at the helm of the Russian leadership, as president or prime minister, since 2000. (Photo by Alexander Nemenov/AFP via Getty Images)
Vladimir Putin has been at the helm of the Russian leadership, as president or prime minister, since 2000. (Photo by Alexander Nemenov/AFP via Getty Images)

( – Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to attack Ukraine “has brought into sharp focus the need to expel the current Kremlin leadership from the international community,” Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Robert Menendez said in a late-night statement.

“Today must mark a historical shift in how the world views and deals with the despot in Moscow.”

Swift reaction also came from ranking Republicans on the House Foreign Affairs and Armed Services committees, Reps. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) and Mike Rogers (R-Ala.), who said “the last few hours have laid bare for the world to witness the true evil that is Vladimir Putin.”

“In response, we are committed to enacting the strongest possible sanctions and export controls to cripple Russia’s ability to make war, punish its barbarity and relegate the Putin regime to the status of an international pariah,” they said.

“We cannot respond like we did in 2008 or 2014. The world must never forget or forgive this heinous act.”

“Putin and his cronies should be pursued by international law enforcement agencies for the purpose of seizing their lavish apartments, fine art, yachts, and other material goods purchased through stealing the Russian people blind,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). “It’s time to make this personal to Putin.”

(U.S. and European sanctions imposed against Russia earlier this week did not target Putin personally. President Biden said late Wednesday night that the U.S. and allies will on Thursday “will be imposing severe sanctions on Russia.” He did not elaborate.)

“Putin has always used force to take what he wants, from the occupation of Abkahzia and South Ossetia in Georgia [in 2008], to the 2014 invasion of Ukraine, and the military occupation of Belarus,” said Senate Foreign Relations Committee ranking member Jim Risch (R-Idaho).

“These are not the actions of a proud nation and people, but the actions of a desperate man whose only desire is to sow chaos in order to make himself look strong.”

A different take came from Democrat Tulsi Gabbard, a former presidential candidate and member of Congress for Hawaii – and Iraq War veteran – who has been sharply critical of U.S. involvement in foreign wars.

“This war and suffering could have easily been avoided if Biden Admin/NATO had simply acknowledged Russia’s legitimate security concerns regarding Ukraine’s becoming a member of NATO, which would mean US/NATO forces right on Russia’s border,” she tweeted.

“This notion that if only we had prevented the expansion of NATO (and alliance of democracies) then Putin wouldn’t have invaded is nonsense,” said Rep. Mike Waltz (R-Fla.), a former U.S. Army Green Beret. “Appeasement never works.”

Waltz was also critical of the administration’s handling of Russia, tweeting, “Biden’s strategy of promising tough responses to Putin’s aggression in order to deter him has FAILED.”

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