Colby Itkowitz writes his Washington Post blog:
With the European Union pondering sanctions next week, Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) asked Nuland at a hearing Wednesday what will happen if the E.U. doesn't come to a conclusion?
"Then will we have the summer lapse and Putin will know that there's no consequences and the United States will stay on the sidelines, waiting for the Europeans? Is that something that we could actually expect?" he asked. He twice asked, "What are we waiting for?"
Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), the ranking Republican on the committee, was even harsher in his assessment.
"I have to say sometimes I'm embarrassed for you as you constantly talk about sanctions and yet, candidly, we never see them put in place," Corker said. Corker also called the White House's policy "feckless," and suggested that foreign service officers must "feel like resigning, when you're put out there to continue to sort of sound tough but know that nothing's really going to happen."
Nuland said the administration prefers to move forward on a next round of sanctions in coordination with the Europeans. The U.S. imposed some sanctions earlier this year on several wealthy Russian businessmen, and Nuland said it is prepared to do more "very soon if Russia does not decisively change course … "