Sen. Risch Optimistic About Sanctions Against Russia Amid Ukraine Invasion Threat Senator James Risch, R-Idaho, Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee speaks during a hearing in Dec. 2021. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)
By Fran Beyer | Sunday, 30 January 2022 10:39 AM
Sen. James Risch, R-Idaho, the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said Sunday he’s optimistic Congress will come to a compromise on sanctions against Russia amid its threatened invasion of Ukraine.
In an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Risch said he believes sanctions will ultimately combine both preemptive and punitive actions.
“This has been a 24-hour-a-day effort for the last several days,” he said of sanction talks led by himself and committee chair Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J.
“I'm more than cautiously optimistic at this point that when we get back to D.C. tomorrow that we're going to be moving forward, and I know Bob shares that hope.”
“I can describe where we've come together… and I think it's a combination of both” preemptive and punitive sanctions, he added.
According to Risch, the United States getting involved in Ukraine is essential — and that those opposed will feel the pain at the gas pump if Russia succeeds in an invasion.
“When you have a country like Ukraine which wants to move West and look toward western values that is a democracy, we side always with countries that are democracies,” he declared. “Certainly there isn't going to be troops committed in that regard. I tell you, the people who are saying we shouldn't be engaged in this at all are going to be singing a very different tune when they go to fill up their car with gas if, indeed, there is an invasion by Russia.”
“There are going to be sanctions that will be crippling to Russia,” he added. “It's going to cripple their oil production.”
But Risch said he doesn’t believe Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has made a decision on invasion — yet.
“There's a lot of us that believe that, if Putin sees weakness, if he sees bumbling, ineptitude, if he sees indecision, he will take advantage of that,” he said. “I don't think he's made a decision to do that yet. What Bob and I and our coalition of bipartisan senators are attempting to do is to project the resolve that we have as Americans to see that he doesn't do that, to provide the strength, project the strength and convince him that this would be a very, very bad idea and it's going to be extremely painful.”
He also pointed out that Germany has “opened the door” for action “pausing” the Nord Stream 2 pipelinefrom Ukraine to Germany.
“The Germans have signaled that they are suspending, pausing… certification, thus completion of the pipeline for six months or until late summer in any event,” he said. “That gives us the opportunity to work with that idea. Certainly we should be in at least as good a position as they are, and that is sanctioning until that period of time. We're looking on that. That's going to be the last ’T’ crossed, ‘I’ dotted before we put the ball across the finish line.”