Senator Chuck Schumer said the U.S. can use “economic options” to pressure Russian President Vladimir Putin to withdraw his troops from the Ukrainian region of Crimea. Schumer, a Democrat from New York, discussed the “tools” that can be used to pressure Putin including exploiting Russia’s “economic dependency” on the West in a press conference at the United Nations Sunday.
“The situation in the Ukraine is clearly deteriorating hour by hour. President Putin is showing … a possible display of military force beyond the Crimea. There’s a great deal of worry about the future of the Ukraine,” Schumer said. “The bottom line is simple, it’s a difficult situation, but we do have some tools in our toolbox. They are economic, diplomatic, geopolitical and we should make sure that the Russians know we will not hesitate to use them. Russia’s particularly dependent on the West economically and, if President Putin does not allow the freedom of the Ukraine, he should be told that that economic dependency will come into play.”
Schumer also condemned Putin as a “bully.”
“The Russians are behaving very badly. It’s not surprising because President Putin often behaves like a bully,” said Schumer.
Schumer declined to go into specifics about economic actions that could be taken against Russia and reiterated that there are “a whole variety of economic options” at America’s disposal.
“Russia’s dependent on the West in many different ways. It’s a declining economy as we become less needy of their oil … the West doesn’t need it but Europe does. With greater production here in the United States and other places, Russia’s going to be in a pickle and they’re going to need some economic cooperation and help. And if it’s clear to them that that kind of cooperation and help is not forthcoming, maybe, maybe they’ll think twice.”
Business Insider asked Schumer if, in addition to putting economic pressure on Putin’s government, the U.S. could take action against Russia’s business community.
“There are many different options available economically and we should make clear to the Russians that we will use economic options, as well as geopolitical options, and diplomatic options,” said Schumer. “Putin seeks acceptance in the community of nations. If he behaves like this, it’s going to be certain that he wont get that acceptance.”
In addition to discussing economic options, Schumer talked about diplomatic strategies that could be used to discourage Putin from taking further action in the Ukraine. Though he said the U.N. Security Council is “paralysed” because Russia has veto power over it, Schumer pointed to other international bodies that could act against Russia.
“We still have the EU, we still have the free nations of the world, we still have NATO,” Schumer said.
For the time being, rather than picking a specific strategy to confront Putin, Schumer said the U.S. should make it clear there would be consequences for Russia’s use of force in Ukraine.
“There are many different options … they’re all available,” said Schumer. “The thing we should do now is not choose which option, but make it clear to President Putin we will use them and we will use the best and most forceful.”
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