Representative Marcy Kaptur, who chairs the U.S. Congressional Ukrainian Caucus, spoke with RFE/RL’s Ukrainian Service, Radio Svoboda in Kyiv this week during a trip with Vice President Biden in Kyiv to attend the June 7 inauguration of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. During the interview, which was widely cited in Ukrainian media, Kaptur voiced support for targeted Russian sanctions.
“By putting sanctions on Russia, the United States, over a period of time, is going to make it more difficult for the Russian economy to function. These sanctions will directly affect many of their most wealthy business leaders… If sanctions are carefully targeted to certain groups, I think that the people of Russia will begin to understand that President Putin’s policies are very destructive, both to Russia and to places outside of Russia.”
Representative Kaptur noted the extreme concentration of wealth in Russia — “about 131 people in Russia control over a third of their wealth, that’s staggering” — in emphasizing the impact of targeting sanctions at these elites. She also said to RFE/RL, while some European countries have been reluctant to impose sanctions because of their reliance on Russia for energy resources, many countries are joining with the U.S. to make the sanctions more effective as a way to convince Moscow to change its Ukraine policy.
Kaptur also spoke with the Voice of America’s Ukrainian Service, and stressed the importance of establishing peace and stability in Ukraine and the rest of Eastern Europe. These elections, she said, mark the beginning of positive developments and the Ukrainian people deserve to have their lives changed for the better. Kaptur praised Poroshenko as a leader who wants to lead his county forward and commended him for taking steps in the right direction. But, she added, he must remain committed to establishing an economically and politically secure state.
The Service also provided live webcast and TV coverage of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearings on challenges facing Ukraine’s new leadership. The coverage featured statements by Senator Robert Menendez, President of Woodrow Wilson Center Jane Harman, and former Deputy National Security Advisor, James F. Jeffrey.