Coats continues hard-line position on Russia

Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., has been one of the loudest voices in Washington, D.C., opposing Russia’s military actions in the disputed Crimea territory.

On Wednesday, Coats introduced his latest effort on this front — a bill that would prevent the U.S. from recognizing Russian sovereignty in Crimea. It’s called the Crimea Annexation Non-Recognition Act, and it outlines seven policies related to the annexation.

“A policy of non-recognition will communicate the seriousness of this situation and help reassure our allies precariously placed on Russia’s borders,” Coats said in a statement.

The conflict in Crimea is a crisis of national identity. Is the Massachusetts-sized chunk of land part of Ukraine, as it has been since 1954? Or should it be annexed by Russia, the ethnic origin of many Crimean residents?

Last month, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the annexation of Crimea, claiming popular interest on the peninsula and the ethnic origin of many there as justification.

“In people’s hearts and minds, Crimea has always been an inseparable part of Russia,” Putin told the Duma, Russia’s legislature, in March. “This firm conviction is based on truth and justice and was passed from generation to generation, over time, under any circumstances, despite all the dramatic changes our country went through during the entire 20th century.”

In the U.S., Putin’s actions have been viewed by many politicians as an attempt for political positioning.

Coats’ bill would prevent U.S. investment in Crimea involving Russia, oppose international assistance to Crimea via the Kremlin in Moscow and require a variety of U.S. agencies to take action.

“The American response must be much greater than a verbal slap if we want Putin to understand his actions in Ukraine are unacceptable and will not be tolerated,” Coats said.

This isn’t the first time Coats has thrown himself into this fight.

Coats introduced a resolution March 5 to issue harsh sanctions and urge international punishment for Putin and the Russian government. After settling differences with Sen. Dick Durban, D-Ill., the resolution urged President Barack Obama to propose various economic and political sanctions on the international scale.

In response, Putin banned Coats, along with several other members of Congress and the Obama administration, from Russia. To this, the senator responded with 10 tweets about the things he’d never be able to do as a result.

He quipped he will no longer be able to vacation in Siberia, play tennis with Maria Sharapova or compare the nation to Russiaville, Ind.

Putin, meanwhile, has continued to push for Crimean annexation and claimed the land as Russia’s. In Washington, Coats fights the other side.

“The steps outlined in this bill will supplement prior congressional action and pave the way for additional sanctions to show our disapproval of this bully on the playground,” Coats said in a statement.

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