In a foreign policy speech at the Virginia Military Institute, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney declared that “there will be no flexibility with Vladimir Putin” in his administration, alluding to President Obama’s conversation with outgoing Russian President Dmitry Medvedev over a hot mic in March.
“The first purpose of a strong military is to prevent war. The size of our navy is at levels not seen since 1916,” Romney said Monday. ”I’ll restore our navy to the size needed to fulfill our missions by building 15 ships per year, including three submarines.”
“I’ll implement effective missile defenses to protect against threats and on this, there will be no flexibility with Vladimir Putin.” (RELATED: Romney uses Medvedev statement to smack Obama)
In March, President Obama told Medvedev that he would have more “flexibility” after the 2012 presidential election.
“On all these issues, but particularly missile defense, this, this can be solved but it’s important for him [Putin] to give me space,” Obama said, according to ABC News. (RELATED: Obama defends hot-mic missile gaffe)
“Yeah, I understand. I understand your message about space. Space for you,” Medvedev said.
“This is my last election. After my election I have more flexibility,” Obama replied.
“I understand. I will transmit this information to Vladimir [Putin],” said Medvedev.
Romney also said “hope” is not a national security strategy for America in the Middle East.
“Drones and modern instruments of war are important tools in our fight but they are no substitute for a national security strategy for the Middle East. The president is fond of saying that the tide of war is receding and I want to believe him as much as anyone else,” Romney said.
As examples of the danger that remains in the Middle East, Romney cited the death of U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens “likely at the hands of al-Qaida affiliates” and Iran getting closer “than ever” to creating a nuclear weapon.
“I know the president hoped for a safer, freer and more prosperous Middle East allied with us. I shared this hope but hope is not a strategy. We can’t support our friends and defeat our enemies in the Middle East when our words are not backed up by deeds, when our defense spending is being arbitrarily and deeply cut, when we have no trade agenda to speak of, and the perception of our strategy is not one of partnership, but of passivity,” Romney said.