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Ben Sasse: NATO should punish Russia after Britain expels diplomats

Ben Sasse speaks during Senate Judiciary hearing
Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., speaks during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.

Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., said Wednesday that the U.S. should work with NATO to end its agreements with Russia as punishment for attacking ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal Sunday in the United Kingdom.

“Americans ought to be leading a conversation with our NATO allies about a collective response to this act and future acts of aggression,” Sasse said in a statement.

NATO suspended practical cooperation with Russia in 2014 after its aggressive actions against Ukraine, including halting counterterrorism projects with Russia in Afghanistan.

"We have made it clear that we continue to seek a constructive relationship with Russia," NATO said in a statement on its website. "But an improvement in the Alliance's relations with Russia will be contingent on a clear and constructive change in Russia's actions — one that demonstrates compliance with international law and Russia's international commitments."

However, Sasse wants to go even further by ending any cooperation between NATO and Russia following Sunday's chemical attack on Skripal and his daughter.

The senator condoned Britain's steps against Russia, after British Prime Minister Theresa May on Tuesday expelled 23 Russian diplomats from the U.K. following the attack. But he said Putin’s regime would continue to try to silence those who criticize Russia and its government.

Sasse said another consideration to punish the country for its attack could be to freeze Russian assets.

“[W]e ought to make it inescapably clear to Russia that its shadow war will meet a coordinated response,” the member of the Senate Armed Services Committee said.

On Sunday, President Trump agreed with May and said Russia should have to show evidence proving it was not responsible for the chemical attack on Skripal and his daughter. The White House said once it's proven Russia was responsible, Trump would condemn their actions.