Sen. Barrasso: 'Our Enemies Don't Fear Us'

Image: Sen. Barrasso: 'Our Enemies Don't Fear Us' (Landov)

Sunday, 27 Apr 2014 02:48 PM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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The United States is suffering a serious worldwide image problem that just gets worse every time the government shows weakness, Wyoming Republican Sen. John Barrasso said Sunday.

"Right now, worldwide, our enemies don't fear us," Barrasso told CNN's Candy Crowley on "The State of the Union." "Our friends don't trust us and when we show weakness, it emboldens people around the world who are our enemies, whether they're in Iran, Syria, Russia or North Korea."

Barrasso, who appeared on the show with fellow Senate Foreign Relations Committee member Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., said that he spent last week touring Norway, Estonia, Lithuania and Moldova, and Sunday called for sanctions against Russia to be made "consequential."

"We hear about sanctions against individuals," said Barrasso. "I think we need to go further against that, [with] sanctions against Russia in terms of their military activities, in terms of arms, in terms of finances, in terms of energy."

Barasso and fellow Republican Sens. John McCain, Arizona; John Hoeven, North Dakota; and Ron Johnson, Wisconsin outlined their visit in an opinion piece for The Washington Post this weekend, saying the countries surrounding Ukraine want more action in response to Russia's annexation of Crimea and its subversion of Ukraine.

The countries' people believe, "as we do, that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s latest acts of aggression require an enduring strategic response from the United States, Europe and NATO," the senators said in the op-ed. "It should be clear to all that Putin’s Russia has taken a dark turn. There is no resetting this relationship. We cannot return to business as usual."

But a relationship with Putin has vanished, they said in the opinion piece, and is only playing along with Western diplomats to consolidate his gains.

"Western weakness emboldens Putin," they said in the article. "The only thing he respects, and that can change his calculus, is greater strength."

Meanwhile, Ukraine needs military assistance from the United States, Barrasso told Crowley Sunday.

"They have an immediate military need," he said. "Their prime minister has told me that what they've inherited from the last leadership is a hollowed out military where nothing shoots or flies or works. They need weapons and I think we should supply them anti-tank, anti missile weapons."

In addition, he said, Russia has increased the price of natural gas by 44 percent for the Ukrainian people in this past month.

"So Putin continues to use energy as both a carrot and a stick, not just for the Ukraine, but also in the baltics as well as in Europe," Barrasso said.

In addition to the Ukraine situation, Iran continues to be a huge threat to the people of Israel, Barrasso said.

"A nuclear-armed Iran to me continues to be the bigger pivotal point in that area of the world," said Barrasso.

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