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November 22, 2014

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NV Politics: In interview, Reid says U.S. needs Europe onboard before sanctioning Russia

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J. Scott Applewhite / AP

In this Dec. 19, 2013, file photo, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nev., left, accompanied by Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., listens during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. Congress returned to work on Jan. 6, 2014, with election-year politics certain to shape an already limited agenda.

As the State Department prepares to sanction Russia over its recent military incursion into the Crimea, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid would prefer it hold back a bit and wait.

In an interview Monday morning with Politico, Reid said Congress should let the situation play out “a while” – perhaps until coordinating responses with Europe – before taking any steps to punish Russia for sending troops into Ukraine.

Over the weekend, Russia’s parliament gave Russian President Vladimir Putin permission to send forces to Ukraine. Members of parliament also voted to request Putin to withdraw Russia’s ambassador to the United States.

Since then, the response from Western nations has been mixed. Canada has withdrawn its ambassador to Russia, the United States has begun drafting plans to sanction Russia and many countries have decided to boycott both the upcoming G-8 summit in Sochi and the Paralympic games in protest.

But European nations have not yet moved to halt trade with Russia or impose any other sanctions. While a few states have frozen the bank accounts of Ukrainian leaders in the last several days, similar steps have not been taken to freeze Russian assets.

European leaders are planning an emergency meeting for Thursday to discuss possible political and economic sanctions against Russia.

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