Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain claimed that Russian President Vladimir Putin “must be encouraged by the absolute timidity” of new U.S. sanctions against Russia, after yesterday’s vote in Crimea appears to forecast a Russian takeover of the Ukrainian region.
On Monday morning, President Barack Obama announced a round of economic sanctions against 11 Russian and Ukrainian officials accused of orchestrating the unlawful occupation and annexation of the southern Ukrainian state of Crimea. To the surprise of many observers, Putin was not among them.
The hawkish McCain spoke with MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell about his deep disappointment with the White House’s response to Putin’s aggression. “I think Vladimir Putin must be encouraged by the absolute timidity,” he said. “The president said we will ‘consider other options.’ The president should’ve said we would provide military assistance to Ukraine — and that would be in defensive weaponry.”
“But to not do that after this country has lost a large part of its territory due to Russian aggression — I think, frankly, it’s encouraging [to Putin],” McCain added, “and it makes me less optimistic about Putin exercising restraint in eastern Ukraine.”
“I don’t know when the president and his advisers are going to wake up to what Putin is really all about,” the senator wondered. “We’ve got to start with a fundamental reassessment of our relationship with him.”
“And the United States has many, many options that the most powerful nation in the world can employ,” he explained, noting the expansion of NATO and the reintroduction of missile defense systems into eastern Europe. “But we must commit ourselves to the long-term freedom and independence of Ukraine,” he continued, “and that means including Crimea.”
“This response — I don’t know how it could’ve been weaker, besides doing nothing,” McCain lamented. “Seven people being sanctioned, after naked aggression has taken place?”
“I can tell you our friends in Ukraine are brave and dedicated,” the senator asserted. “And they’re ready to fight.”
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