Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA), Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, condemned Russian President Vladimir Putin’s military action in Ukraine, calling the invasion a “blatant assault” on freedom and security.
“Russia’s blatant assault on the freedom and security of Ukraine, a sovereign and independent country, must end immediately. I join with President Biden and other leaders around the world in condemning Moscow’s actions, which follows Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014 and support for a violent separatist movement in eastern Ukraine ever since. Make no mistake: ultimate blame for this crisis lies squarely at the feet of Vladimir Putin, and he must be held accountable,” Smith said in a statement Monday.
In 2014, during former President Barack Obama’s administration, Russia annexed Crimea from Ukrainian control and has provided military support to separatist areas in eastern Ukraine. Russia previously sent troops into the separatist areas but had denied those actions until this week.
“We know that Putin seeks to expand Russia’s sphere of influence in Eastern Europe, and we know that he sees violence, threats, disinformation, and division as legitimate tools in pursuit of that aim,” Smith continued. “He will not succeed, and the result of Putin’s escalatory actions will only bring the United States, NATO, and the democratic countries of Eastern Europe even closer together in opposition to what he has done.”
Smith called for using the “economic might of the United States” to hold Putin and the Russian government accountable, adding that the U.S. must work with her allies and global partners and stand “resolutely…against any further aggression.”
“We must also continue to expose Russian assaults on our shared values in international bodies and diplomatic settings like the United Nations and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE),” Smith wrote. “Where Vladimir Putin seeks lies and division, the United States must respond by declaring the truth about his actions against Ukraine, taking effective and coherent action to hold him accountable, and doing so alongside our allies and partners.”
After Putin sent troops into eastern Ukraine earlier this week, President Joe Biden announced an executive order blocking any U.S. investments to, from and within the DNR and LNR. On Tuesday, the U.S. Treasury Department unveiled further sanctions targeting two major Russian banks and dozens of their subsidiaries, as well as five Russian businessmen with extensive ties to the Russian government.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry subsequently threatened a “strong response” in retaliation to the sanctions.