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Senators Close to Russia Sanctions Bill Seeking Message to Putin

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Bloomberg — U.S. senators are close to a deal on a Russia sanctions bill that could include some penalties even if President Vladimir Putin doesn’t send troops into Ukraine, Foreign Relations Committee Chair Bob Menendez said.

“There are some sanctions that really could take place up front because of what Russia has already done,” Menendez said on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday. “Cyberattacks on Ukraine, false flag operations, the efforts to undermine the Ukrainian government internally.”

A Russian invasion “later on” would trigger “devastating sanctions that ultimately would crush Russia’s economy,” he said. Russia has denied it plans to further invade Ukraine.

The comments suggest the Senate is closing in on a deal that would include the threat of hard-hitting measures against the Russian banking sector and personal sanctions on top officials. Menendez and Senator Jim Risch of Idaho, the top Republican on the committee, told CNN that while there are details to be ironed out, the two sides are working together to send a message to Putin.

“We are on the one-yard line,” said Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat. “I believe that we will get there. We have been working in good faith, we have been accommodating different views and we are committed jointly, in a bipartisan way, to defend Ukraine and to send Putin a message.”

“There’s been a 24-hour-a-day effort for the last several days,” Risch said.

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