On Sunday Republicans mounted attacks against President Obama over what they consider his inappropriate response to the crisis in Ukraine.
Rep. Mike Rogers, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, told Fox News Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Russians have “been running circles around us.”
“Putin is playing chess, and I think we are playing marbles — and I don’t think it’s even close,” he said.
“I believe it’s the naïve position of the National Security Council and the president’s advisers that, if we just keep giving things to Russia, they’ll wake up and say, ‘the United States is not that bad,’” Rogers said. “That is completely missing the motivations of why Russia does what Russia does.”
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina told CNN “we have a weak and indecisive president,” and Obama’s lack of bellicose response “invites aggression.”
“None of us should be under any illusion about what President Putin is capable of doing in Ukraine,” said Senator John McCain, an Arizona Republican, in a statement. “Every moment that the United States and our allies fail to respond sends the signal to President Putin that he can be even more ambitious and aggressive in his military intervention in Ukraine.”
“Every moment that the United States and our allies fail to respond sends the signal to President Putin that he can be even more ambitious and aggressive in his military intervention in Ukraine,” McCain said in a statement. “There is a range of serious options at our disposal at this time without the use of military force. I call on President Obama to rally our European and NATO allies to make clear what costs Russia will face for its aggression and to impose those consequences without further delay.”
On Saturday the junior senator from Florida, Republican Marco Rubio, took to the pages of Politico to condemn Putin and Russia. “This is a critical moment in world history,” he ominously warned. “The credibility of the alliances and security assurances that have preserved the international order is at stake. If Putin’s illegal actions are allowed to stand unpunished, it will usher in a dark and dangerous era in world affairs.”
Rubio enumerated eight steps required “to punish Russia,” including convening an emergency meeting of NATO, boycotting the planned G8 meeting in Sochi, and adding Russian officials to the Magnitsky list, which imposes travel bans and other sanctions.
Rep. Tom Cotton, an Arkansas Republican, a member of the House Foreign Relations Committee, said the decision by the upper house of the Russian Duma to respond militarily to protect Russia’s interests in Ukraine is an act “of aggression that violate Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.” He demanded the U.S. ambassador to Rusia be recalled and members of the Putin government have their assets frozen and visas revoked. Cotton said the United States should supply military assistance to Ukraine immediately.
“Vladimir Putin is seizing a neighboring territory — again — so President Obama must lead a meaningful, unified response,” said the ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee. He called for immediate sanctions against Russia.
Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas said last week Russia should be booted out of the Group of Eight, the World Trade Organization and the United Nations Security Council.
“As the President and his national security team are apparently the last to learn, Putin has scant regard for international norms when they run counter to his goal of re-establishing Soviet-style regional hegemony over unfortunate states like Georgia and Ukraine who have the temerity to want a more free, prosperous future for their people,” the Texas Republican said. “And Putin is under no illusions that the President’s vague threats mean any more than his infamous ‘red line’ in the Syrian desert.”
“The United States should stand with Ukraine,” he said.
Republicans are not alone. Democrats are also calling for action against Russia.
Rep. Eliot L. Engel, the senior Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, posted a statement on his web page Saturday. Engel said “the international community should support Ukraine’s interim government in its efforts to restore order and return Ukraine to political and economic health. The United States and our allies must be ready to help, which is why I support a robust international economic assistance package and the Administration’s proposal to provide U.S. loan guarantees and other assistance to Ukraine. Today, Ukraine faces formidable challenges, but its people should know that the United States stands with them.”
Michigan Democrat Senator Carl Levin, who heads up the Armed Services Committee, proposed placing “a significant number of international observers on the ground in Ukraine. He said the presence of observers “could reduce the risk that Russia would make a false claim of provocative acts by Ukraine as an excuse for further violation of Ukrainian sovereignty, and thereby help avoid a conflict that nobody should want.”
Russia says it has moved into the semi-autonomous Crimea peninsula to safeguard Russian-speaking Ukrainians from a nationalist coup government in Kyiv.
Soon after taking power, the Verkhovan Rada, the Ukrainian parliament, abolished a law enacted in 2012 allowing regions of the country to officially use languages in addition to Ukrainian if they were spoken by over 10 percent of the population. Nearly half of the country’s regions, primarily those in the eastern part of the country, have adopted Russian as a second language.
Prior to the Euromaidan coup, Putin adviser Dmitry Peskov said Russia was concerned about growing Russophobia in the country.
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