The Obama administration is warning that it could take additional steps against Russia, and it looks like it will have an unusual ally: House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.
The Virginia Republican, a frequent critic of the president, said Tuesday that he’s asked committees to “examine additional steps that can be taken to impose greater costs on Russia.”
Cantor’s comment follows heightened tensions between the two countries, as Russian President Vladimir Putin, ignoring direct warnings from U.S. and EU officials, signed a treaty to make Crimea part of Russia.
The administration announced sanctions against seven Russian officials Monday, a move Cantor said that he backs. But he added that the “list must be dramatically expanded to exert real pressure.”
And White House spokesman Jay Carney warned Tuesday that more steps could be coming.
“You have seen some designations already, and there are more to come,” Carney said. “I wouldn’t, if I were you, invest in Russian equities right now unless you were going short.”
Cantor didn’t specify what action committee members could take, but he said Russia’s membership in the G-8 should be revoked, the United States should consider providing military support to the Ukraine, and the U.S. should work with NATO to “reassure other countries threatened by Russia.”
The House passed a resolution last week condemning Russia for its incursion into Crimea and backing a push to send international monitors to the region. It also backed giving $1 billion in loan guarantees to Ukraine, but the Senate is pushing to include International Monetary Fund reforms — which House Republicans have balked at.
Cantor also pressed for a boost in natural-gas exports to Ukraine. Republicans in both chambers have argued that this could help lessen that country’s dependence on Russia.
And though Secretary of State John Kerry last week defended the “reset” of the U.S.-Russian relationship under the president, Cantor said that a reassessment of “our entire strategy” is needed, adding that he looks “forward to working with President Obama and his administration to confront the brazen challenge to international security posed by President Putin’s aggression.”