President Obama's inability to stop Russia's annexation of Crimea from Ukraine is just the latest example of a failing foreign policy, says John Bolton, the former United States ambassador to the United Nations under George W. Bush.
Obama said in a speech
Wednesday at the European Union that the Ukraine crisis was not the start of another Cold War, and that "Russia leads no bloc of nations."
"You know in Moscow they must listen to that and simply shake their heads, and not just in Moscow, in Beijing, in Tehran, in Pyongyang and in terrorist camps all around the world," Bolton, currently senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, told "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV.
In the wake of the Crimea annexation, Russian troops have amassed on the Ukrainian border, sparking fears Russia will invade the rest of the Ukraine after the U.S. and Europe implicitly conceded Crimea.
"If you're [Russian President Vladimir] Putin and you look at that kind of response, you have to say, 'what, if any, indication is there that if I move against another piece of the Ukraine I'll get any different response?' And the fact is we're actually encouraging Putin to do just that," Bolton said.
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There are also widespread concerns that Putin could be eyeing territory in Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia, but the U.S. is bound by the terms of the NATO agreement to protect those Baltic States. Bolton thinks Obama would follow through in enforcing that agreement but fears Russia will miscalculate American commitment to its allies given its response in Crimea and in other situations under Obama's leadership.
"Then you're in military conflict accidentally. That's another consequence of American weakness," Bolton said.
Bolton also appeared on "America's Forum" with J.D. Hayworth and David Patten on Newsmax TV on Friday.
He continued to assert that U.S. weakness has encouraged Russian aggression.
"Our response to Russia's policy in Ukraine since the overthrow of the Yanukovych government there has been weak and feckless, and that's being polite. The Russians had sized Obama up over the last five years. I think they felt that they could get what they wanted in Ukraine and honestly went beyond where I thought they would go by moving troops into the Crimea," Bolton told the program.
"So, I don't know what Putin's game is in Ukraine now. I thought he would be satisfied with a regime in Kiev that was subordinate to his wishes, Moscow's wishes, but it may be that he intends to go further and carve out more of Ukraine. Certainly, he's not going to pay any attention to President Obama."
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Asked what he thought of Putin's reaction Thursday when Obama said the Russians better pull all troops back, Bolton responded, "You know, I don’t think they paid the slightest bit of attention to it because the president has said repeatedly that he wants to negotiate a resolution to this crisis. He doesn't see any role for military force. I'm not talking here about actual military hostilities. I'm talking about the use of military force, NATO, our allies in NATO, to demonstrate a capability for deterrence."
He continued, "Instead, our president talks endlessly about how shocked he is that the Russians have violated international law. I must say, in the Kremlin I think they shake their heads every time they hear the president talk. This is a man, we've seen this in case after case around the world, who believes that his rhetoric actually is reality. He lives in this fog of words, whereas Putin lives in a world of power. In any competition between the two, there's no doubt which will prevail."
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