U.S. Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) is joining a group of federal lawmakers heading to Ukraine today.
Johnson is part of a bipartisan group of eight U.S. Senators who plan to meet with Ukrainian leaders, as the country fights efforts by Russia to annex the Crimean region. The Wisconsin Republican says they want to show their support for the people of the country and their fight for a government free of corruption. Johnson says it’s important that America and its European allies speak with a unified voice in telling Vladimir Putin that “this type of unlawful behavior is completely unacceptable.”
Johnson says the U.S. most show it clearly opposes Russia’s referendum on Crimea and supports sanctions over Putin’s interference. The Wisconsin Republican says “there must be a cost” for Russia and its supporters. He says they “must feel pain, so they don’t continue with this expansionism.”
AUDIO: Sen. Ron Johnson (:56)
The visit comes as the U.S. and other world leaders are putting pressure on Russia not to hold a referendum vote this week that would move Crimea from Ukrainian to Russian control. Russia is facing tough sanctions from several nations, if it moves ahead with the vote.
Johnson says the U.S. can’t afford to continue treating Russia like it’s a good actor on the world stage. “I wish they were just a friendly rival,” Johnson says, “but best case, they are probably an unfriendly adversary. I hope they don’t ratchet it up to be a full-fledged enemy.”