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Coats' proposal would punish Russian weapons exporter

Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., on Monday called for international economic sanctions against Russia for its takeover of the Crimea region of Ukraine.

Coats said he has introduced legislation designed to curtail sales by a Russian state agency that exports weapons and defense products. He offered his proposal as an amendment to a Ukraine aid bill being considered by the Senate.

“The international response must be much more vigorous if we are to prove that Putin’s behavior is unacceptable and cannot be repeated,” Coats said in a Senate floor speech about Russian President Vladimir Putin.

He said that “to do little more than prevent a handful of Russian officials from traveling abroad will show Putin and his cronies that in the end we actually do not mean what we say.”

Coats, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, was referring to U.S. travel sanctions imposed recently against Russian leaders by the Obama administration.

In remarks broadcast by C-SPAN, Coats said, “I continue to believe we can and must do more to isolate Russia,” including kicking Russia out of the G-8 industrial countries and suspending the Russia-NATO Council.

His amendment would prohibit the U.S. government from doing business with Russian arms agency Rosoboronexport and with any company that cooperates with Rosoboronexport in the design, manufacture or development of military equipment.

It also would cut U.S. foreign aid equal to the amounts that recipients spend on weapons sold through Rosoboronexport.

“They can buy Russian weapons on their own dime, not on our dime,” Coats said, pointing out that Afghanistan uses U.S. aid to buy Russian weapons.

“This amendment would harm the Russian arms industry, the Russian economy, Russian prestige and Putin’s standing in the world. That ought to be our goal,” he said.