On Thursday, the Senate approved a new sanctions bill targeting Iran and Russia.
Passed by a dramatic 98-2 margin, the bill now goes to the House of Representatives.
The House should pass it without amendment.
Still, the Russia-specific elements, sponsored by Senator Crapo, are especially important. That's because they would punish Russia for its global destabilization.
It's an urgent need.
Unless we produce consequences for his hostility, Putin will keep pressing. Why wouldn't he.
As I've noted, Putin's political philosophy was shaped by the KGB. His reflex is to push as far as is feasible. And based on Russia's actions — and American inaction — over the past few years, Putin sees few limits.
This is a truth rendered in Russia's downing of a western airliner (MH-17, shot down over Ukraine), in its support for Assad's genocide against Syrian Sunnis and in its theft of western Europe. And yes, it's a truth rendered in Russia's deliberate effort to disrupt American democracy.
Yet none of this was inevitable. And nor is the darker future.
A more robust American counter-strategy could temper Putin's aggression and support the cause of peace.
The Senate bill helps that cause.
Codifying sanctions against senior officers of Russia's GRU foreign intelligence service, the bill focuses on individuals who damage American interests. But it does more than that.
Because it also sends an overdue message to the European Union. For far too long, when it has come to Russia, E.U. states have had their cake and eaten it. Specifically, they've yielded to Russian energy pressure and corruption to avoid upsetting Putin. They've accepted the flow of Russian money and influence as a preference to standing firm.But by sanctioning European companies that work with Putin-aligned interests, the Senate bill would shuffle the deck. It would send a clear message: If you want U.S. support, you must play your part in pressuring Putin.
The E.U. is predictably upset about this. On Thursday, the German foreign minister and Austrian chancellor released a joint statement condemning the Senate bill. They argue it is an affront to European interests. "Political sanctions should not be associated with economic interests," they said. The officials added, "Europe's energy supply is a matter for Europe, not the United States of America!"
But let's be clear: These complaints are the whimper of pathetic souls. And in the case of Austria's chancellor, at least, they are not surprising. After all, on June 2nd, the chancellor attended Putin's St. Petersburg summit. His attendance there signaled his appeasement of Putin.
American interests demand that we take a lead against this double-dealing.
Ultimately, this sanctions bill is the right medicine for the relevant malady. In challenging Russian aggression but leaving open opportunities for compromise, it matches proportion to resolution.
Speaker Paul Ryan must now bring the bill to the House floor.