Sen. Mike Johanns says the United States needs to join with its European allies to keep Russia from invading Ukraine.
Johanns says Russia has shown it cares little about Ukrainian sovereignty, but does care about its pocketbook.
“We could engage our European allies in imposing economic sanctions against Russia,” Johanns tells reporters during a conference call. “We could engage what’s called the G8, which is a group of eight countries that could impose economic sanctions.”
The crisis began last month when protests led to the ouster of a government friendly to Russia. Russia responded by moving its military in Crimea, on the doorstep of Ukraine.
President Barack Obama has announced a series of sanctions against Russia, both diplomatic and economic. The United States is sending more money to Ukraine’s interim government. Military airpower has been increased in the region.
Obama has harshly criticized Russian President Vladimir Putin for his response.
Johanns, though, says Putin is little concerned about the names we might call him.
“At the end of the day, I don’t think Putin cares one whit about what we say about him,” Johanns says. “That makes no difference whatsoever to him. What he is watching carefully is what actions we take.”
Secretary of State John Kerry has been in discussions with his Russian counterpart, but no resolution to the crisis has been reached.
Johanns says he would be surprised if the Secretary of State is able to persuade Russia to ease tensions in the region.
“We can back him up and strengthen his hand, but like I said at the end of the day I don’t think talk makes much difference to Putin.”
AUDIO: Sen. Mike Johanns comments on Ukrainian crisis. [1:15]