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‘Quit Pussy-Footing Around’: Tom Cotton Blasts Biden Administration’s Weak Sanctions On ‘Ruthless Dictator’ Putin

Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) called out President Joe Biden’s administration during a Sunday morning interview on ABC’s “This Week,” saying that the sanctions western nations had imposed on Russia thus far were “riddled with loopholes.”

Cotton spoke with anchor George Stephanopoulos about President Biden’s response to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, arguing that the United States and other allies needed to step up with harsher sanctions immediately.

“Vladimir Putin controls 100% of the banks in Russia. He can use the other 20% to finance his war machine. It’s time to remove all Russian institutions from the international payment system. It’s time to impose sanctions on oil and gas exports. We need to rush those weapons that were announced for delivery yesterday to the front. Anti-tank, anti-aircraft missiles, sniper rifles, ammunition. It should have been done weeks ago,” Cotton said. “It’s time for the president to quit pussy-footing around. The financial sanctions are riddled with loopholes.”

Stephanopoulos pointed to the news that Putin had raised the threat status of his nuclear deterrent forces, and asked Cotton whether he believed others were right to question Putin’s mental state.

“I’m not going to play psychologist. What Vladimir Putin said is not a surprise,” Cotton replied, saying that Putin had been signaling his intent to make such a move for months, if not longer.

“That’s why I’ve been urging this administration to take the threat from Vladimir Putin seriously, to impose sanctions weeks and months ago, to send weapons to Ukraine weeks ago,” Cotton continued. “Ms. Psaki said we made the mistake of seeing Vladimir Putin of seeing the world through global norms. I never made that mistake. I’ve seen him as a ruthless dictator. He took the ambitions he’s always had and went for the jugular. Thankfully brave Ukrainian people are fighting back and every day they hold out they continue to stiffen the spines of leaders in the west. We need to urge them on and continue providing them the weapons they need to fight back.”

Stephanopoulos noted that Cotton had always been highly suspicious and vocally critical of Putin, pivoting to compare that to comments made by former President Donald Trump.

“You’ve never made that mistake, it’s true,” he said. “That can’t be said of Donald Trump. He called him smart. Earlier in the week he called him savvy. He said NATO and the U.S. are dumb. Are you prepared to condemn that rhetoric from the leader of your party?”

“George, you heard what I had to say about Vladimir Putin. He’s a ruthless dictator who launched a war of aggression. Thankfully the Ukrainian army has anti-tank missiles that President Obama would not supply. That’s why it’s so urgent we continue to supply those weapons to Ukraine,” Cotton said, ignoring the question.

“Why can’t you condemn Donald Trump for those comments?” Stephanopoulos tried again.

“George, if you want to know what Donald Trump thinks about Vladimir Putin or any other topic I would encourage him to invite you on your show,” Cotton shot back, saying that he did not speak for other politicians.

“You’re a senior member of the Republican Party. Donald Trump is the leader of the Republican Party. When Fox News asked him if he has a message for Vladimir Putin, he said he had no message. If Barack Obama or Joe Biden said something like that, you would be the first to criticize him,” Stephanopoulos tried a different tack.

“If you want to talk to the former president, you can have him on your show,” Cotton said again.

“If Donald Trump runs again, can you support him?” Stephanopoulos tried a different question.

“George, I’m not worried about this fall’s elections, much less an election two years from now,” Cotton pushed back. “I’m focused on the war of aggression that Vladimir Putin launched in Ukraine. There’s not a moment to lose.”

Stephanopoulos tried a fourth time to get Cotton to weigh in on Trump, saying, “President Trump was out there talking about it last night. I don’t understand why you can’t condemn his praise of Vladimir Putin.”

“George, I don’t speak on behalf of other politicians,” Cotton said once more. “I’m delivering my message to you which has been clear whether President Obama was president or Donald Trump was president or Joe Biden is president. Vladimir Putin has been a ruthless dictator for years. Too many people have not taken the threat seriously. That’s why you see the images we see in Ukraine now. Where we need to focus is on stopping that aggression, supporting the Ukrainians.”

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