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Grassley says economic sanctions should be worst-case scenario in Russia

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Senator Charles Grassley said during a phone call Thursday that the United States isn’t faring well in negotiations with Russia because leaders have been letting other countries push the nation’s boundaries for too long.

“Under Clinton, under Bush and under Obama we’ve drawn lines in the sand and people have crossed those lines and there haven’t been any repercussions,” Grassley said.

He said President Obama is the most outstanding example of someone who has drawn lines in the sand, “but he isn’t the only one.”

Grassley said the United States has lost credibility to some extent and Russian President Vladimir Putin is taking advantage of that.

He said the latest update he’s had on the situation in Ukraine came from Secretary of State John Kerry who said the United States is making measurable progress.

“I’m not sure how he can measure that or what he’s talking about,” Grassley said.

He said Russia is violating the Budapest agreement that was created in 1994.

Grassley said the United States should use diplomacy to solve the problem and shouldn’t be looking at anything more severe than imposing economic sanctions.

He also talked about the proposed funding reduction to the National Guard.

Grassley said he agreed with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s comments about the cuts being too much too fast.

“I’m not one of the guys saying you can’t have a reduction in military spending,” Grassley said. “I think you need to take into consideration all of the duties they’re equipped to do.”

He said National Guard members aren’t just filling slots in regular army units, they have important responsibilities both overseas and at home during peace time.