Putin using diplomatic process as a device – Volker

“Now is the time to be increasing support for Ukraine, training, equipment. Now is the time to apply sanctions until Russia stands down its military forces. We should be putting these in there today rather than waiting to see if Russia invades and then doing it after the fact,” [former U.S. Ambassador to NATO and former U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations Kurt Volker said.

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He urged the United States and NATO to “take preemptive steps.”

At the same time, he said he was sure that the current U.S. administration seems to understand the need to be much tougher than in 2014 or 2015. “So they seem to have prepared the ground for quick deployment of very tough sanctions. They’ve also said that they will reinforce a military presence in NATO countries in Eastern Europe and increase security assistance to Ukraine. So they’ve said all of these things, and I think they mean it, I believe they are committed to it. The only thing I would say is that I would urge them to do it now, don’t wait,” Volker said.

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U.S. Congress can pass new sanctions against Russia pretty quickly – Volker

Recent bills with new sanctions against Russia and increased support for Ukraine could be passed pretty quickly, but some points need to be amended.

Kurt Volker, former U.S. Ambassador to NATO and former U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations, said this in an interview with Ukrinform.

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“If the administration and the Democratic leadership – because both chambers are controlled by the Democrats – work out some changes to the bills that preserve their intent, that preserve increasing support to Ukraine and a clear statement of support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and so on, I suspect that they could pass pretty quickly,” Volker said.

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At the same time, Volker noted that the White House is able to impose sanctions on Russia on its own, without any agreement with Congress. “The administration actually already has the authority it needs to impose more sanctions if they want. They don’t need the legislation,” he stressed.

A group of influential Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives on January 10 initiated a bill to ensure Ukraine’s independence by strengthening its defense (GUARD), which proposes to grant Ukraine NATO Plus status, as well as impose sanctions on Russia’s Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.