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Sen Corker: 'Hallelujah' on new Russian sanctions

Republican Sen. Bob Corker from Tennessee told CNBC on Thursday that he applauds President Barack Obama's newly imposed sanctions on Russia for its role in destabilizing Ukraine.

"On the sanctions, hallelujah," the ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said. "I've been pushing this thing for months. I got to give the [Obama administration] an at-a-boy when they do something good."

"I'm thankful that these sanctions were put in place," he continued in a "Squawk Box" interview. "If they don't change their behavior. I hope more [sanctions] will be put in place."

Obama announced the tougher economic penalties Wednesday, amid concerns that tensions between pro-Russian separatists and Ukraine's military could further escalate, following the annexation of the Crimea region by Moscow in March.

"The stock market was up 33 percent in Russia since March," Corker said. "Now we're actually doing something that is going to impact them and try to change behavior."

Read MoreRussia sanctions hit stocks; escalation eyed

The broader U.S. measures target two major Russian energy firms, a pair of powerful financial institutions, eight weapons firms and four individuals. But they stopped short of the most stringent actions the West has threatened, which would fully cut off key sectors of Russia's oil-dependent economy. U.S. officials said those steps were still possible if Russia fails to back-off in Ukraine.

Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin responded by saying relations between the U.S. and Russia were in danger of reaching a "dead end" and could damage U.S. business interests in his country.

"We cannot accept a bitter peace with Russia. We cannot allow them to act in the way they are just to continue to do business with them as many in Europe want to do," Corker said.

Read MoreUS sanctions will take relations to dead end: Putin

European leaders unveiled their own measures against Russia on Wednesday, although these failed to match those of the U.S., focusing instead on blocking loans to Russia.

"I think that Putin candidly has found himself in a really terrible place, where he's stoked this nationalism within the country. And at the same time in doing so, [he] has to continue to support the rebels in eastern Ukraine and damage his country," Corker said.

"Hopefully, [Putin] will figure out some way of being sane again," Corker said.

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—By CNBC's Matthew J. Belvedere. The Associated Press continued to this report.

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