Obama has imposed limited sanctions against unidentified Russian officials thought by the U.S. to be directly involved in destabilizing Ukraine.
But Congress on Thursday put off a vote that would have expanded those sanctions, as well as approve $1 billion in loan guarantees to Ukraine and International Monetary Fund revisions to help Kiev. The Senate won't vote on the measure until March 24 at the earliest, when lawmakers return from a weeklong recess, while House Republicans are pushing their own Ukraine aid bill that includes no Russia sanctions or IMF provisions.
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., sharply criticized fellow Republicans for not acting "when the people of Ukraine are crying out for our help." He said he'd never been more embarrassed by members of his own party.
"Don't call yourself Reagan Republicans," McCain said. "Ronald Reagan would never let this kind of aggression go unresponded to by the American people and we're not talking about troops on the ground. We are talking about responses that impose sanctions and punishment for Vladimir Putin."
During hours of pointed questioning by Congress, Kerry on Thursday sought to maintain a pragmatic tone. He said Ukraine should not have to choose between allying with the Western world and Russia in the East.
"We believe Russia has interests and has an ability to be able to be important to the development of Ukraine, and so does Europe," Kerry told the House Foreign Affairs Committee. "And there's no reason why they shouldn't look in both directions."
Of Crimea, he added: "There's no doubt that they feel a huge tie to Russia. That can be reflected and respected without invading with your troops and having an election at the point of a gun."
Associated Press writer Bradley Klapper contributed to this report.
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