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US senators close to approving 'mother of all sanctions' against Russia

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Sen. Bob Menendez, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee

The leaders of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee say they are close to approving the most unprecedented severe sanctions against Russia to stop what they describe as Moscow's plan to invade Ukraine.

Speaking to CNN on Sunday, Senator Bob Menendez, the committee's Democratic chairman, said that in the event of such an alleged offensive, the lawmakers would want Russia to face “the mother of all sanctions.”

“[President Vladimir] Putin will not stop if he believes the West will not respond,” Menendez said.

The sanctions include actions against Russian banks that could severely undermine the Russian economy and increased lethal aid to Ukraine’s military, the Associated Press reported, citing the American senator.

Earlier this month, Ukraine received a second consignment of lethal weapons from the United States as part of military aid totaling $200 million that Washington had approved in December.

The US and its allies have cited a troop buildup near Russia's border with Ukraine to allege that Moscow sought to invade the ex-Soviet republic.

Moscow has roundly rejected the allegations, saying the troop deployment was a response to the Western military alliance of NATO's eastward expansion. Moscow also asserts that it is free to move its forces about inside its own territory.

Menendez also raised the prospect of imposing some punishments preemptively, saying, “There are some sanctions that really could take place upfront."

US after using UN as launchpad for attacks on Russia

Also on Sunday, the US's Ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield told the ABC network’s “This Week” that her country was also about to turn the screws on Russia at the UN Security Council too.

The Security Council would press Russia hard in a Monday session to discuss its massing of troops near Ukraine, AP said, citing the envoy.

The agency, however, noted that "any formal action by the Security Council is extremely unlikely, given Russia's veto power and its ties with others on the council, including China."

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