Two prominent congressional Republicans slammed President Barack Obama’s handling of the Ukraine crisis Sunday and urged him to take action to punish Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said Obama ought to “stop going on television and trying to threaten thugs and dictators…. Every time the president goes on national television and threatens Putin or anyone like Putin, everybody's eyes roll, including mine. We have a weak and indecisive president that invites aggression.”
House Intelligence Committee chairman Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., said on Fox News Sunday that “Putin is playing chess and I think we are playing marbles, and I don’t think it’s even close. They’ve been running circles around us.” Rogers called Obama’s advisors “naïve” in their thinking about Russia.
Graham recommended several actions that Obama could take.
“Georgia is trying to seek NATO admission through the membership action plan. Let's accelerate Georgia's admission into NATO,” he said on CNN’s State of the Union.
He added that, “We abandoned our missile defense agreements with them to protect Europe from a rogue missile attack coming out of the Mid East. Russia backed Obama down. If I were President Obama, I would reengage Poland and the Czech Republic regarding missile defense.”
Appearing with Graham on CNN, Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin of Illinois said Congress ought to pass a resolution condemning the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
He also said that Russian oligarchs – powerful businessmen aligned with Putin– “should be denied an opportunity to fly back and forth to Europe at will. We've got to make him feel that there's a price to pay for this conduct.”
He said, “I agree with Lindsey when he talks about missile defense and strengthening NATO alliance.”
Meanwhile, President Obama had plans to speak to allies about the Ukraine situation on Sunday, said White House spokesman Josh Earnest.
"The president's been working on this issue today," Earnest told reporters. "He has calls planned with our partners and allies in other countries."
— The Associated Press contributed to this report
First published March 2 2014, 9:49 AM