Coats says he's 'proud' to be banned in Russia

By LINDSEY ERDODY AND RACHEL BUNN | Herald-Times, Bloomington, Ind. | Published: March 21, 2014

U.S. Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., has been banned from Russia, along with eight other U.S. government officials,

The Russian government released the names Thursday in a list of sanctions issued in response to a similar list the United States announced earlier this week.

The Indiana senator, who serves on the Select Intelligence Committee, was included with three White House aides, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., Senate Foreign Relations Robert Menendez, D-N.J., and Energy and Natural Resources Chairwoman Mary Landrieu, D-La.

“While I’m disappointed that I won’t be able to go on vacation with my family in Siberia this summer, I am honored to be on this list,” Coats said in a statement. “Putin’s recent aggression is unacceptable, and America must join with our European allies to isolate and punish Russia. I will continue to lead efforts on Capitol Hill to bring Putin to his senses.”

Coats appeared on CNN to discuss the sanctions announced Monday by the White House, and said he doesn’t think it’s enough.

“It’s a baby step in the right direction,” Coats said. “We need to do a lot more than this to get this bully in the playground stood up to by the United States.”

Coats said he’s given President Barack Obama a list of ideas and wants to work together to present a united position.

“You can’t just trample on your neighbor just because you think we can’t do anything about it,” Coats said. “Just naming a few individuals is a small start.”

Obama issued an executive order Monday imposing a travel ban and asset freeze on seven top Russian officials and four Ukrainian officials who contributed to the crisis.

On Thursday, the president announced additional sanctions on 20 top Russian officials and associates of Putin, as well as a the Bank Rossiya, Putin’s personal bank, a response to the annexation of the Crimean region of the Ukraine. Those targeted include Putin aide Andrei Fursenko, Russian Railways chairman Vladimir Yakunin, Gennady Timchenko, Putin’s personal banker Yuri Kovalchuk and Arkady and Boris Rotenberg, who received about $7 billion in contracts for the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games.

The sanctions came hours after the Russian lower parliament ratified a treaty that would make Crimea part of the Russian federation. Crimeans already have voted to become part of Russia. Both moves have been called illegal by U.S. officials.

Coats has been particularly critical of Russian military moves, authoring a resolution with Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., condemning them. The resolution passed the Senate March 11.

The resolution demanded that the Russian military release Ukrainian Crimea, urging President Obama to use economic and diplomatic measures to strengthen the Ukraine and punish those “responsible for the illegal seizure of Crimea.” It also encouraged European governments to take the similar actions, for Russia to open a political dialogue with the Ukraine and for the Federation Internationale de Football Association to reconsider its decision to host World Cup 2018 matches in Russia.


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