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May 08, 2014 AT 5:58 AM
Members of Congress Thursday urged stronger economic sanctions against Russia for causing a worsening situation in Ukraine as two State Department officials sat to explain the U.S. efforts to influence Russian policy on it neighbor. The Republican chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Ed Royce of California, said in his prepared opening remarks, "Despite the warnings issued and sanctions imposed by the U.S. and our allies, Russia continues its aggression against Ukraine. Royce said, " Despite a weakening Russian economy due to U.S. and European sanctions over Ukraine, the situation remains "a crisis, with violence intensifying."