Russia's aggressive push into Crimea is a "defensive" move by President Vladimir Putin to keep his country politically and economically viable, conservative commentator and former presidential candidate Pat Buchanan says.
"Crimea is probably Russia's foreseeable future for sure . . . I don't agree with those who say this is a beginning of a big new move across Europe," Buchanan told "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV.
"It is a move by Putin to make sure that he does not lose Crimea . . . the way he has lost the Ukraine politically and otherwise. So, in that sense, it's defensive.
"But no doubt it's a crossing the borders and a capture of territory which does not legally belong to Russia. You can conclude from that what you wish," Buchanan said Tuesday.
A pro-Russian regional government was installed in Crimea earlier this month after armed men seized the parliament building and raised the Russian flag.
Crimea is set to hold a referendum Sunday on whether the peninsula should become part of Russia or remain within Ukraine.
Buchanan, who has run for president and hosted CNN's "Crossfire," does not think the Crimean takeover is the beginning of a new Cold War.
"The heart of the Cold War was the communist ideology . . . It was an ideology which juggled the globe, which was determined basically to eliminate Western civilization rivals, become a guiding philosophy, religion, whatever you want to call it, the entire world, and that no longer exists," Buchanan said.
"Whatever you say about Vladimir Putin, he is trying to restore the Russian Orthodox faith, which is far different from Leninism or communism.
"What he is trying to do with the other elements of the old Soviet Union is to bring them together in an economic union, not again in a political union as far as I can see."
Buchanan said Putin's methods of seizure are also different from those of the old Soviet Union.
"The manner at which he is taking Crimea is nothing like the manner Stalin behaved in the Ukraine . . . They murdered between 5 and 9 million people," he said.
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