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N.H.’s U.S. senators call for a cease-fire in Ukraine after jet shot down

Both of New Hampshire’s U.S. senators called yesterday for a cease-fire in the wake of a Malaysia Airliner getting shot down over Ukraine. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, a Republican, also called for tougher sanctions against Russia and increased military aid for Ukraine.

“I believe (Russian President) Vladimir Putin can stop this conflict,” she told the Monitor yesterday. “I think our course of action needs to be (to) support families who lost their loved ones . . . and ending the violence in eastern Ukraine by stopping Russian aggression.”

Economic sanctions are one of the strongest tools at the government’s fingertips, and the United States should impose tougher measures against Russia, she said.

New sanctions against Russia that President Obama announced earlier this week – targeting the country’s financial and energy sectors – are already having an impact, Ayotte said. But, she added, “I think he can go further.”

And European backing of the sanctions is important, Ayotte said. “I hope they would step up,” she said. “If not, we need to be the leader here and use our strongest diplomatic skills.”

In April, Ayotte and Sen. Bob Corker, a Tennessee Republican, introduced legislation to broaden the economic sanctions against Russia and increase military assistance to Ukraine.

Providing the Ukrainians with military equipment, including arms and intelligence support, is an important measure that the U.S. can take, she said. “There has been an assault on their sovereignty, and they are willing to defend themselves,” Ayotte said.

On Thursday, Ayotte met with the Ukrainian ambassador to the U.S. She said that Ukraine wants to be able to defend itself and is not asking for troops.

“We should be doing whatever we can to isolate Putin, given his actions here, and really cause him to turn the corner to stop the violence,” she said.

Shaheen was not available yesterday for an interview, but in a statement, she said her thoughts are with the victims of the missile attack.

“We need an immediate cease-fire so that a thorough international investigation can determine who is responsible for this heinous act, and we must hold the perpetrators accountable,” she said.

Both senators sit on the Armed Services Committee, and Shaheen sits on the Committee on Foreign Relations.

(Allie Morris can be reached at 369-3307 or amorris@cmonitor.com.)

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