Cruz: Lack of US Leadership Emboldened Putin

Image: Cruz: Lack of US Leadership Emboldened Putin

Wednesday, 05 Mar 2014 08:27 AM

By Melanie Batley

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Russian President Vladimir Putin's aggressive show in Ukraine is just one of many examples of the consequences of President Barack Obama's "abdication of global leadership," Sen. Ted Cruz says.

In a column for Foreign Policy magazine, the Texas Republican contends that the Obama administration has pursued a path of appeasement toward Russia, as he has in a number of countries which pose a threat, an approach which has only served to make the world a more dangerous place.

"Ironically, this administration's effort to avoid conflict at all costs makes conflict all the more likely. Putin knows there will be no serious reprisals for aggression from an American president who was only waiting for his re-election to give him the 'flexibility' to make additional concessions at the negotiating table," Cruz wrote.

"Putin's disdain for Washington has been on full display as he barely waited for the Olympic flame at Sochi to be extinguished before he turned his attention to long-suffering Ukraine."

Cruz makes the point that when Putin invaded Georgia in 2008, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin was one of the few who correctly predicted that if the move went unchallenged, it was only a matter of time before Russia did the same to other former Soviet satellites.

Cruz outlines a number of ways he believes the United States could deter the escalating Russian aggression toward Ukraine, starting with urging the G-8 to immediately suspend Russia for not contributing to a civil international order. He also encourages the United States to use its thriving energy industry for exports and assistance to help Ukraine be independent of "energy blackmail" by Russia.

Most notably, Cruz suggests Congress should immediately pass a new free trade treaty with Ukraine and review all existing military treaties between the United States and Russia with the possibility of abrogating them. He added that the United States should also reinstitute plans to move forward with the missile defense system in Europe that were canceled by the Obama administration in 2009.

In an interview with Politico, Cruz says his approach would be the third way between the proposals of other Republicans who support either military intervention or isolationism, but says Obama is ultimately at fault for showing weakness toward Putin and abandoning international allies.

"Ukraine began as a power play when the government was poised to move into the West, into Europe, and Putin pulled them back," Cruz told Politico. "Our support should have been unequivocal at the time — and at this point, when Russian tanks massed on the borders of the Crimean peninsula and then began to move in, the response of the United States was muddled and equivocal, which gave Putin no reason to fear meaningful consequences."

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