Pete Hoekstra: Putin Just Getting Started

Image: Pete Hoekstra: Putin Just Getting Started

Monday, 17 Mar 2014 02:14 PM

By Lisa Barron

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Russian President Vladimir Putin is not going to change course after supporting a secession referendum in Crimea on Sunday, former GOP congressman Pete Hoekstra said.

"They're going to keep moving forward in this direction," Hoekstra told Newsmax TV's John Bachman and J.D. Hayworth on "America's Forum" Monday. "I don't see the West, Europe, and the United States being able to put in place a regimen of sanctions that are going to force Putin or Russia to change their strategy."

Putin has "thronging crowds, adoring crowds in Crimea, in Russia. This is a win-win for Putin. He makes the land grab, it's a good, smart political move. The West is powerless to stop him. He's going to keep moving and flexing his muscles."

Hoekstra said a comment made on Russia's state-controlled media suggesting that Russia can turn the United States into "radioactive ash" was meant for domestic consumption.

"President Putin has a number of people that he's speaking to in this crisis. Obviously he's sending a message to the West but he's got his own political issues and those types of things going on in Russia. This is a message that is meant primarily for the consumption of the Russian populace. It builds him up," he said.

Hoekstra represented Michigan's 2nd congressional district from 1993 to 2011. He left the House to run unsuccessfully for Michigan governor in 2010. He served as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee from 2004 to 2007.

"It's very difficult to turn an international situation like this around very, very quickly. The seeds to this were sown four or five years ago when [then Secretary of State] Hillary Clinton pushed the reset button, when President Obama said we're not going to build the anti-missile defense systems in Poland and the former Czech Republic, when the president put himself in the position where we needed Russia to help in the talks with Iran."

Hoekstra also criticized European leaders for their role in the crisis.

"Europe put itself in a very weak position when it stopped developing its own energy resources and allowed itself to become dependent on pipelines that flow through Russia and the Ukraine," he said.

As for whether Vice President Joe Biden's trip to Eastern Europe this week and President Barack Obama's visit next week are steps in the right direction or a sign of weakness, Hoekstra said:

"It shows us the weakness that we do have, that the only thing we can really do is send the vice president or the president over there. We will find they impose some sanctions on a limited number of Russian and Crimean officials, limiting their access to come to the West and those types of things. That's not really going to have much of an impact."

Hoekstra warned that the United States is also more vulnerable to a terrorist attack as result of former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden's leaks about the government's secret surveillance programs.

"The more leaks that come out, the better they [terrorists] understand what our capabilities are," he said. "Some of these al-Qaida and some of these terrorist groups are sophisticated, and when they read and see what we're doing, they'll take evasive actions."

Related Stories:


Ex-Rep. Pete Hoekstra: Ukraine Turmoil Shows US 'Missing in Action'
McCain: US Should Give Ukraine 'Long-Term' Military Aid




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