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March 3rd, 2014
06:47 PM ET

Rep. Royce: Congress is ready with tough sanctions on Russia, but is the White House?

(CNN) – Although Russia's foreign minister rejected claims his country was acting aggressively in Ukraine, his European Union counterparts met in Brussels to condemn what they called Russia's "clear violation of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity." They demanded Moscow pull its troops back or face possible sanctions.

Here in the U.S., State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Monday that sanctions against Russia weren't just possible, but likely.

Republican Rep. Ed Royce, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee says Congress is ready to act.

"We're going to be very bullish on doing what we need to do to make ... Putin feel the heat, or at least have the oligarchs around him, the business community, feel the kinds of pressure that's going to come if they don't cease and desist," Royce said in an interview with CNN's "The Lead with Jake Tapper."

"The question is will the White House support something as aggressive as the economic sanctions that we would like to see pushed," said Royce.

In meetings with his Senate counterpart, Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez, and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, Royce said there was discussion of loan guarantees to bolster Ukraine.

But the White House says the administration is taking action. Vice President Joe Biden, speaking by telephone to Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, warned of increasing political and economic isolation.

"Virtually everything (Rep. Royce) suggested, we are actually doing," deputy national security adviser Tony Blinken told CNN. "Including looking very hard at sanctions that would impose a real cost on Russia."

Royce also emphasized the need for the United States' to lead on this crisis.

"We have got to work and lead with Europe in order to really create a united front, because if this thing gets further out of hand ... you can end up with a civil insurrection across the Ukraine," said Royce.

For more of our interview with Rep. Ed Royce, check out the video above.

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