Sen. Chris Murphy, following a trip to Ukraine, said he would urge the White House to consider "non-lethal support" to that country's military, such as Meal, Ready-to-Eat packets, or MREs, and communications equipment, as Ukrainians prepare a defense from a possible invasion by Russian troops.
"There is some non-lethal support that we can give the Ukrainian military," Murphy told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" on Monday. "I'm not suggesting arming them. But they can use things like MREs and communications equipment that may help them, at least, forestall a greater movement into their territory other than Crimea."
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U.S. and European officials are considering sanctions against Russia that include a ban on travel visas and freezing assets. Some lawmakers have been critical of President Barack Obama for not offering more definitive support for Ukraine's military.
Murphy called criticism of the White House "ridiculous." He said Russian President Vladimir Putin had shown aggression during both Republican and Democratic administrations and credited Obama's foreign policy with aiding Ukraine's desire for independence from Russia.
"We are in a position now where the vast majority of Ukraine has turned away from Russia and toward the EU, in part, because of this strong position from the administration," the Connecticut Democrat said.
Murphy called for "tough real sanctions" that would affect "Russian banks and Russian petrochemical companies." He called Sunday's referendum in Crimea to join Russia a "sham" and suggested Putin was "making this up as we go along."
Zbigniew Brzezinski, national security adviser to former President Jimmy Carter, agreed that Putin was "improvising," but added that so far, the Russian president had been successful.
"He is improvising, to some extent. I think the seizure of Crimea was an improvisation, but a very skillful one. And a very brutal one, in fact, with masquerading soldiers being the executors of his will," Brzezinski said Monday on "Morning Joe."
Putin's goal was to "recreate the Soviet Union under a new name," Brzezinski said.
"If he sees that we are pacifists, essentially, engaging only in symbolic sanctions, then I think he'll try overtly to destabilize Ukraine. And that, in turn, will rest on the question, 'Will the Ukrainians react, and will they defend their country, or fall apart?'" Brzezinski said.
U.S. reaction would also affect Ukrainians, Brzezinski said. He said that if the United States was supportive, Ukrainians would "stand fast." If not, he predicted it would "make it much easier for Putin to destabilize Ukraine altogether. "
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