PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Sen. Susan Collins condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as a “heinous act” on Thursday, saying the U.S. and allies should present a united front and advance further sanctions.
Congress could consider Russia sanctions past those from President Joe Biden when the Senate returns next week. The Maine senator’s comments reflect broad agreement among lawmakers Thursday that Russian President Vladimir Putin should face consequences for his actions, although lawmakers were unable to finalize a sanctions package this month.
Russia launched attacks across major Ukrainian cities in the early hours of the morning Thursday. It then advanced troops from the north and east. The attacks came despite a new round of sanctions rolled out earlier this week targeting two state-owned Russian banks and a key natural gas pipeline.
Collins, a Republican, reiterated Thursday while speaking to reporters after visiting a medical simulation lab at the University of Maine at Presque Isle that she would have favored aggressive sanctions sooner amid the buildup of Russian troops at the Ukrainian border.
But as Russia invades, she said it was important to present a united front between Congress, the White House and U.S. allies. Comments from other lawmakers have largely echoed a similar theme Thursday, although some Republicans have placed blame on Biden.
“I think it’s important that Putin not perceive any divisions among the Senate, the House, the administration [or] our NATO allies,” Collins said. “We’ve got to be united and impose the harshest possible response.”
Collins said she would not favor involving American troops in the fight between Russia and Ukraine. But she said the U.S. should continue offering its support by sending military equipment, sharing intelligence and escalating sanctions.
“We must stand with our NATO allies and the European Union and impose the toughest, harshest sanctions imaginable in response to this heinous act that is going to result in the deaths of so many people,” she said.