Two prominent Republicans are warning that failure of the United States to deter Russia in Ukraine will only embolden Russian President Vladimir Putin and could end in a military standoff.
Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich of Georgia write in an op-ed on CNN.com
that failure of the United States and Western Europe to act could give Putin the green light to "test our resolve" in Latvia, Lithuania, or Estonia.
Those three former Soviet republics are now members of NATO, which all other NATO members, including the United States, are bound by treaty to protect with military force.
"Trouble there could 'reset' us right back to direct warfare with Russia," the two write. "That would be a disaster and very, very dangerous."
Passivity, they say, is the path most likely to lead to war.
"The Obama administration should grant the request for military aid immediately — before it's too late for deterrence," they write.
Gingrich and Graham also call for President Barack Obama to immediately issue an executive order approving the export of American natural gas to 20 countries awaiting bureaucratic approval.
"The highest priority should go to approving exports to Europe, where in many places, Russia has a near-monopoly on natural gas," they said.
They also call on Obama to issue an executive order approving 24 pending liquefied natural gas facilities they say have been delayed by "bureaucratic red tape."
Europe is heavily dependent on natural gas from Russia, leading many Republicans to call on increased production in the United States to lessen Putin's stranglehold on Europe, which has been less willing to buy into sanctions against Russia for fear of it holding back energy exports.
The op-ed notes that while Obama hosted Ukraine's interim Prime Minister
Arseniy Yatsenyuk last week as a show of support and Secretary of State John Kerry announced "very serious" steps if Russia does not back down by Monday from its attempt to annex Crimea, those words must be backed by action.
"Theodore Roosevelt is famous for a foreign policy he summarized as 'speak softly and carry a big stick,'" the pair wrote. "Obama's foreign policy is closer to 'scream loudly and carry no stick.'"
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