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article imageSenate panel votes for sanctions citizens wary of strong measures

By Ken Hanly     Mar 13, 2014 in Politics
Washington - While the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday (March 12) voted 14 to 3 to approve a $1 billion in loan guarantees and significant U.S. sanctions, a poll shows relatively few Americans approved of strong action against Russia.
As shown on the appended video and discussed in this Guardian article, Obama has already used his executive powers to impose some visa restrictions on some Russians: Barack Obama and his EU allies unveiled a co-ordinated set of sanctions on Thursday to punish Russia for occupying the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea, imposing visa restrictions on individuals and sharpening rhetoric in what has rapidly degenerated into the worst east-west crisis since the end of the cold war.
A new poll suggests Americans have no strong appetite for any real involvement in the crisis in Ukraine.
Although an earlier Washington Post-ABC poll showed that a majority of Americans supported sanctions only 28 per cent supported them strongly. The new poll by Pew Research Center shows that just 29 percent of Americans want Obama to take a "firm stand" against the Russian actions in Crimea. Over half, 56 percent, prefer that the U.S. not get too involved in the Ukraine. The opposition to an active role in the crisis was shared by a majority of Republicans, Democrats and Republicans.
The earlier poll can be found here. The majority support was only if Europe joined in with sanctions. A U.S. alone approach was not supported: The poll finds support for sanctions dropping from 56 percent to just 40 percent if Europe is not involved, with 51 percent opposing a U.S.-only approach. This perhaps explains the more negative responses to intervention in the Pew poll. The Pew poll can be found here.
The Obama administration is nevertheless going ahead with legislation that will not only impose sanctions but will also provide $1 billion in loan guarantees. The legislation will impose economic penalties on Russian officials responsible for military intervention or guilty of gross corruption. The bill does not punish Russian banks or energy companies as some senators wanted.
While all Democrats on the committee supported the measures, some Republicans objected to the U.S. approving of expanding the lending capacity of the IMF and were concerned as to how the U.S. would pay for the loan guarantees. The authorization for penalties is quite broad but will be imposed at Obama's discretion.
The U.S. is the only country that has yet to approve IMF reforms proposed in 2010. The reforms increase the power of emerging countries on the body and allows the IMF to shift money within accounts to deliver money more quickly to countries in peril. This will be necessary to provide quick aid to the Ukraine. Senator Marco Rubio and Rand Paul both Republicans oppose the reforms. Paul considered the Ukraine a poor credit risk citing the billions owed to Russia. The loan money could very well be used to pay off debts to Russia. Paul voted against the panel resolution but Rubio was not present and did not use his proxy vote.
More about US opinion on Ukraine and US, US sanctions on Russia, us bailout of Ukraine
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