President Barack Obama cast Russia's Crimean land grab as the desperate action of a regional power in decline during a Tuesday speech in the Netherlands.That is an oversimplification, says economist and University of Maryland professor Peter Morici.
"The reality is that Russia defies definition; it is really only a regional power when it comes to conventional military," Morici told "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV.
The big difference between Russia and the average regional power, Morici said, is that Russia "happens to sit on enough thermonuclear warheads and missiles to reduce the United States to rubble, which means it can move in ways that other regional powers can't because it can blackmail us with the threat of nuclear war."
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Former U.S. Rep. Pete Hoekstra told Malzberg the big concern is that Europe is vulnerable right now because its nations are dependent on Russia for natural gas, while the United States missed an opportunity in the last five years to supply Europe with energy by instead focusing its efforts on restricting domestic production of fossil fuel-based energy.
Now the White House is struggling to contain an old foe and is approaching international crises without a clear agenda, he said.
"I don't think Russia is worried about what Obama is saying at this point," Hoekstra said. "The president is moving from one statement to another, from one small little crisis to another without an overarching plan."
Hoekstra said it is unclear whether Russia has also been emboldened by intelligence of U.S. military capabilities gathered from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, now living in Russia under political asylum.
"I don't know whether he gave [intelligence] to the Russians, I don't know, but the bottom line is he took a lot of information that can hurt us," Hoekstra said.
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