Republican Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham,
two hawks on U.S. policy toward Russia, said they will lead the push in
the upcoming Congress for sanctions on Moscow that are stronger than
those the Obama administration announced Thursday.
retaliatory measures announced by the Obama administration today are
long overdue. But ultimately, they are a small price for Russia to pay
for its brazen attack on American democracy. We intend to lead the
effort in the new Congress to impose stronger sanctions on Russia," the
senators said in a joint statement Thursday.
The Obama administration issued an executive order
Thursday authorizing sanctions on individuals and organizations it
believes were involved in alleged Russian interference in the 2016 U.S.
election. The White House sanctioned nine entities and individuals: two
Russian intelligence agencies, four officers of its largest intelligence
agency, GRU, and three companies that supported GRU's operations. It
also expelled 35 Russian diplomats and closed two Russian compounds in
New York and Maryland in response to what it said was harassment of
American diplomats in Moscow.
The Russian Foreign Ministry
called Obama's sanctions counterproductive and said they will harm the
restoration of bilateral ties, according to Reuters.
The measures will test President-elect Donald Trump,
who has brushed off the U.S. intelligence community's conclusion that
Russia interfered in the election, calling it an effort to delegitimize
his electoral victory. He has been criticized by both major American
parties for appearing too warm to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
It remains to be seen whether his administration will reverse the
action or other existing sanctions on Russia, or if it will pursue new
measures. Trump's transition team did not immediately respond to a
request to comment on whether it will uphold the executive action. When
he was asked about possible sanctions Wednesday, he said, "I think we
ought to get on with our lives."
congressional Republicans including McCain and Graham have signaled that
they could break with Trump if he chooses not to seek tougher sanctions
on Russia. GOP Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky
called the actions "a good initial step" and while he did not outright
say he sought tougher sanctions, he appeared to leave the door open for
"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," McConnell said in a statement.
Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan
of Wisconsin said the sanctions were "overdue," he did not indicate in a
statement if he would seek further action against Russia. More From CNBC