Following a recent trip to Ukraine, Rep. Mike Pompeo of Kansas told Newsmax that while the final outcome of the ongoing crisis is "impossible to predict," Russian President Vladimir Putin's long-term mission "is to control Ukraine."
Two-termer Pompeo, a Republican member of the House Intelligence Committee, is part of the growing number of younger Republicans in the House urging the administration to take a harder line against Russia on the economic front.
"To the degree that we can demonstrate support for the Ukrainian government, we can change Putin's calculus and increase the risk to him and to Russia for moving combat forces closer to Kiev," Pompeo said.
Russian troops are currently poised on the border of eastern Ukraine and insurgents throughout the east seized police stations and called on Putin to intervene for their safety.
Pompeo believes that an attempt to annex that region is the next logical step for Russia after using similar tactics in taking Crimea.
"It could easily go on from there to Belarus or Moldova," he added, referring to two other independent states in the former Soviet Union that have large Russian-speaking populations.
Citing meetings he had with political leaders in Kiev, the Ukrainian capital, Pompeo said they were disappointed with the response of the United States and the European Union to the recent events culminating in the plebiscite in which Crimea voted to leave Ukraine and join Russia.
"The consensus is that the West's response to these events was far too slow and far too weak," he said. "Right now, we're not even sharing basic intelligence with Ukraine, a country with whom we've signed an agreement."
With Ukrainian voters going to the polls on May 25 to elect a new president, the leading contenders are former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, a controversial figure who was jailed after losing the last election to ousted pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych, and chocolate oligarch Petro Poroshenko.
As recent polls show Tymoshenko trailing Poroshenko, the former prime minister stunned observers Wednesday by holding talks with pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.
Tymoshenko told the Voice of America she met with separatists in Donetsk who have occupied regional government offices since April 7, in an attempt to break the deadlock between them and the government in Kiev.
Pompeo said "there will be a good election and a number of candidates will be good. From my perspective, the best candidate is Mr. Poroshenko. But ultimately, the Ukrainian people have to decide."
Pompeo, who was accompanied on the mission to Ukraine by Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff of California, is considered a leading candidate to be chairman of the House Intelligence Committee if Republicans maintain their majority in the House next year.
Regarding his chances, the Kansan told Newsmax: "The decision on who will chair the Intelligence Committee is solely up to Speaker [John] Boehner. And I'm sure he'll make the right decision."
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.
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