McConnell Blasts Obama’s Russia Policy But Calls Sanctions Good First Step

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) blasted the Obama administration’s posture toward Russia Thursday even as he labelled the President’s announcement of new sanctions against Russia over election hacking a “good first step.”

Like many Republicans, McConnell applauded the President’s actions, even though he argued the fresh sanctions were overdue.

“Sanctions against the Russian intelligence services are a good initial step, however late in coming,” the majority leader said in a statement. “As the next Congress reviews Russian actions against networks associated with the U.S. election, we must also work to ensure that any attack against the United States is met with an overwhelming response.”

He characterized the Obama administration’s policy toward Russia as passive, saying that “aggressive behavior short of a military attack upon our country will only stop when it is deterred.” McConnell also faulted the Obama administration for not deterring Russia’s interference in the U.S. election.

“The Russians are not our friends. And clearly the Obama administration has not yet dissuaded them from attempting to breach our cybersecurity systems, or harass our diplomats in Moscow,” he said.

Read the full statement below:

“For eight years the foreign policy of the Obama administration has rested upon an effort to drawdown America’s conventional military capabilities, commitments and forward presence, and increased reliance upon international organizations and rhetoric. The inevitable consequence of this withdrawal from the globe has been an effort by dissatisfied powers such as Russia, Iran and China to expand their respective spheres of influence. Countries unfriendly to the United States have employed cyberattacks, coercion, relied on proxy forces and have harassed American ships and aircraft.

The Obama administration for eight years attempted to reset relations with Russia and sat passively while Russia expanded its sphere of influence, intervened in Crimea, eastern Ukraine, Syria and attempted to bully the Baltic countries. Aggressive behavior short of a military attack upon our country will only stop when it is deterred.

The Russians are not our friends. And clearly the Obama administration has not yet dissuaded them from attempting to breach our cybersecurity systems, or harass our diplomats in Moscow.

Sanctions against the Russian intelligence services are a good initial step, however late in coming. As the next Congress reviews Russian actions against networks associated with the U.S. election, we must also work to ensure that any attack against the United States is met with an overwhelming response.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lauren Fox is a reporter at Talking Points Memo.

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