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Blumenthal, Graham call for economic, military cuts to nations that recognize Russia annexation of Ukraine

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Sens. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., called on Congress Thursday to take direct action and cut all military and economic aid to any nation that acknowledges Russia’s attempts to annex Ukraine.

The pair said they have introduced legislation on the matter as both a standalone bill and an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act as Russian President Vladimir Putin plans to sign off on the annexation of four regions Friday.

‘What we’re saying is any nation that aids and abets Vladimir Putin in this absolutely illegal action ought to be held responsible for its complicity. No economic aid, no military aid to any country that recognizes this annexation,’ Blumenthal told reporters. ‘It is a land grab. It’s a steal.’

Russia this week claimed to have achieved overwhelming support in the occupied areas of Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson and said it would hold a signing ceremony Friday to formally seize the Ukrainian territory it has illegally occupied for seven months. 

Western officials and Kyiv have rejected the referenda as ‘shams’ and pointed to Moscow’s previous actions in Crimea to suggest the results this week were falsified by Russian proxies. 

‘It is another craven, brazen tactic by Vladimir Putin to test the West’s support for Ukraine, and we are having none of it,’ Blumenthal told reporters.

Graham said that he and his democratic colleague would also like to ‘accomplish a small change’ in U.S. policy that would ‘allow the International Criminal Court investigators to come the United States to seek evidence we have against war crimes being committed by Russians in Ukraine.’

‘We want the Russian military to know we were watching, and you will pay a price if you continue to follow the war crime dictates of Putin,’ he added. 

Blumenthal and Graham have crossed the partisan divide when it comes to the war in Ukraine and earlier this month called for Russia to be added to the U.S. list of state-sponsored terrorists.

Both lawmakers have applauded the Biden administration’s efforts to counter Putin’s war in Ukraine but have argued that tanks and more weaponry are needed as the fight continues. 

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