Graham On Russia Sanctions: ‘Talking Way Too Much’ And ‘Doing Too Little’

On Sunday, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) appeared on ABC’s “This Week.” During the segment, host George Stephanopoulos asked the senator about the state of Russia/Ukraine tensions.

When asked if he believes Putin will invade, Graham said he didn’t know, but that Congress needs to “do more” as it pertains to major “pre-invasion, post-invasion sanctions.”

“We’ve been working in a bipartisan fashion for about three weeks now to come up with pre-invasion, post-invasion sanctions, and the White House keeps pushing back,” Graham said, adding that congress should pass a sanctions package that would “destroy the ruble and cripple the Russian economy so Putin could see it in writing. That might help him decide not to invade.”

After a back-and-forth about internal pushback on a package, Graham stated that sanctions, as well as “secondary sanctions,” must be severe:

It’s not just enough to sanction a Russian bank. You want to sanction anybody that does business with that bank. And [we’ve] really got to be hard on Nord Stream 2. We’ve got to convince the Russians that Congress will destroy Nord Stream 2 as a cash cow for Putin, and we need to have a robust set of sanctions regarding the SWIFT program so that Putin would understand that the relationship with the United States would be forever changed.

The senator added that Putin must realize that following Biden, there will be another president, and any invasive actions he takes with Ukraine will “destroy the U.S.-Russian relationship for decades.”

Lastly, Graham said that too little is being done now, that despite taking Crimea in 2014 and having 100,000 troops surrounding Ukraine, Putin has thus far faced no consequences. “So, I’d like to hit him now for the provocation and have sanctions spelled out very clearly, what happens to the ruble and his oil and gas economy,” Graham stated.

TRANSCRIPT:

STEPHANOPOULOS: Are you convinced that Putin’s going to go in?

GRAHAM: No, I’m not, but I’m convinced that we could do more in Congress, and should. We’ve been working in a bipartisan fashion for about three weeks now to come up with pre-invasion, post-invasion sanctions, and the White House keeps pushing back.

So, the best thing that could happen is for us to pass this sanctions package, pre-invasion with a waiver, post-invasions sanctions that would destroy the ruble and cripple the Russian economy so Putin could see it in writing. That might help him decide not to invade. But we should be doing more in Congress.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Yeah, I’m surprised that you haven’t. I mean, as you said, the negotiations have been stalled…

GRAHAM: Me, too.

STEPHANOPOULOS: … in the Senate. You’re saying the president is pushing back, but you also have some pushback from your Republican colleagues in the Senate?

GRAHAM: Yeah, but not in a real, meaningful way. There’s 70 votes in the body for invasion sanctions, pre-invasion sanctions with a waiver, post-invasion sanctions. The problem has been secondary sanctions.

It’s not just enough to sanction a Russian bank. You want to sanction anybody that does business with that bank. And [we’ve] really got to be hard on Nord Stream 2. We’ve got to convince the Russians that Congress will destroy Nord Stream 2 as a cash cow for Putin, and we need to have a robust set of sanctions regarding the SWIFT program so that Putin would understand that the relationship with the United States would be forever changed.

And, finally, I want to make that point. This is not the last president America will have. If Russia invades the Ukraine, you will destroy the U.S.-Russian relationship for decades. And every president in the near term will be put in a box when it comes to dealing with Russia. So, I hope Putin understands that.

STEPHANOPOULOS: What do you make of this overall strategy we’re seeing from the administration, releasing this intelligence about possible invasions, saying imminent invasions, saying maybe there will be a false flag operation? Do you think that maybe has been effective in pushing Putin back?

GRAHAM: I don’t know. That’s a really good question. I don’t want to ring an alarm bell as much as take action. They’re telling us the invasion is imminent. But they’re not telling Putin with clarity what happens if you invade.

He should be punished now. What I can’t get over is that the world is allowing him to do all this without consequence. The guy took the Crimea in 2014. He’s got 100,000 troops amassed on the Ukrainian border, and he’s paying no price at all. So I’d like to hit him now for the provocation and have sanctions spelled out very clearly, what happens to the ruble and his oil and gas economy. I think that’s what’s missing.

We’re talking way too much and we’re doing too little.

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