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2012 Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney charged Sunday that both President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had bungled the handling of U.S. relations with Russia.
With Russian forces poised on the border of Ukraine and with Russia having already annexed the Crimea, Romney said “the president’s naïveté with regards to Russia and his faulty judgment about Russia’s intentions and objectives has led to a number of foreign policy challenges that we face. Unfortunately, not having anticipated Russia’s intentions, the president wasn’t able to shape the kinds of events that may have been able to prevent” the Russian seizure of Crimea and the threat to eastern Ukraine.
In an interview on CBS’s Face the Nation, Romney said “we really need to understand that Russia has very different interests than ours. This is not fantasy land; this is reality.”
During their final debate in October of 2012, Obama mocked Romney’s concern about Russian power.
He told Romney “the 1980s, they're now calling to ask for their foreign policy back because, you know, the Cold War's been over for 20 years.”
Romney said Sunday that in the weeks leading up to the Russian seizure of Crimea, Obama failed to use the opportunity which he had to signal to Russian President Vladimir Putin that the United States would impose punitive economic sanctions if Russian forces moved into Crimea.
“We certainly could have taken action early on; we would have had far more options to try and shape events, to keep Russia from moving in,” Romney argued.
But he said the invasion and the menacing Russian troop presence on Ukraine’s border amounted to “a devastating move that changes the whole political landscape of the entire world and certainly that of Eastern Europe.”
The former Massachusetts governor said that effective leaders are able to look into the future and “try and take actions to shape it in some way. And that’s of course what this president has failed to do and his secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, as well. They thought re-setting relations with Russia, handing out gifts to Russia would somehow make Russia change its objectives.”
He said Obama ought to reconsider putting a missile defense system into the Czech Republic and Poland as the Bush administration had planned to do. Obama cancelled that missile deployment “as a gift to Russia,” he charged.
He said he could not think of any country which had greater respect for the United States than it did when Obama became president in 2009 – “and that’s a very sad, unfortunate state of affairs.”