President Barack Obama should shift from talking about the NBA and focus on the crisis in Ukraine and the dangers Russian President Vladimir Putin poses to the international community, former National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski said.
While in Malaysia, Obama responded publicly to the NBA scandal involving the Los Angeles Clippers and racial comments allegedly made by the team's owner, Donald Sterling. The president was in Asia a part of a weeklong trip to reassure ties with allies in the region.
In the meantime, tensions have grown in Ukraine as Russian troops continued to mass along its borders. Clashes have broken out as Russian agents reportedly have taken over public buildings in eastern Ukraine and seized control of broadcasting stations.
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Brzezinski, who served under former President Jimmy Carter, called the situation in the Ukraine a "dangerous international problem." He said it was time for the president to address Americans directly on an issue that had the potential to become "really dangerous."
"The president needs to begin to focus the country's attention away, say, from the NBA to world affairs, and, in particular, to the challenge that Putin is posing to international stability," Brzezinski told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" on Wednesday. "The president, by now, should really speak to the country."
Economic sanctions the United States imposed against Russia in an effort to deter Putin from further aggression into Ukraine have so far had little apparent effect on the Russian president's intentions. Brzezinski said that could change when sanctions "begin to bite."
The United States needs a policy for Ukraine that operates on "several levels," Brzezinski said. That includes "providing defensive arms" to the Ukrainians, and encouraging them to be "firmer" against the Russians.
Brzezinski said the United States also needs to stand ready to offer the Russian president "the possibility of a compromise" to resolve the crisis.
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