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US slaps new sanctions on Russian oligarchs, government officials (April 2018)
02:09 - Source: CNN
Washington CNN  — 

Lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle are praising the Trump administration’s new Russian sanctions Friday, saying it was much needed after Russia meddled in the 2016 election, though some prominent members of Congress are calling for more to be done.

Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain, who is the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, called the sanctions as “a clear message to Putin and his cronies that there will be a high price to pay for Russia’s aggression in Ukraine and Syria.”

“The United States must press forward with a broader strategy to deter and, if necessary, defeat Russian aggression and counter Russian malign influence activities,” he said in a statement. “Anything less will only encourage Putin to continue attacking us, our allies, and democracies around the world.”

The Trump administration unleashed additional sanctions against seven Russian oligarchs with ties to President Vladimir Putin along with 12 companies they own or control.

The measures announced by the Treasury Department on Friday were also aimed at 17 senior Russian government officials and the state-owned Russian weapons trading company, Rosoboronexport, which has long-standing ties to Syria and its subsidiary, Russian Financial Corporation Bank.

Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez, the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, also praised the sanctions but argued the White House needs to do more.

“I welcome today’s sanctions on Russian oligarchs and government officials, which I called for many months ago,” he said in a statement. “But I again urge President Trump to clearly articulate a comprehensive strategy to counter malign Russian government behavior in all of its forms. Nearly 15 months into this Administration, the American people and our allies are still questioning whether the President is willing to fully defend our democracy and our national security.”

The punitive actions were the latest escalating step by the US to punish Putin’s inner circle for interfering in the 2016 election and other ongoing aggressions across the globe in Crimea, Ukraine and Syria.

Nebraska Republican Sen. Ben Sasse, a frequent critic of Trump, responded to the sanctions in a statement: “Good.”

“We’ve kicked Moscow’s spies to the curb and now we’re hitting Putin’s thugs where it hurts – their fat bank accounts,” he said. “This is part of the strong message America and our NATO allies have to be sending. The free world isn’t going to sit on the sideline while Putin and his crooked oligarchs try to make the Soviet Union great again.”

Democratic Rep. Eliot L. Engel, the top Democrat on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, also said the White House needed to do more.

“The sanctions imposed by the Administration today are a welcome step and the right thing to do,” he said in a statement. “If the White House is serious about protecting our country, it needs to get much smarter and much tougher in dealing with Russia.”

CNN’s Donna Borak contributed to this report.