Tags: Russia | Steve Malzberg Show | Ukraine Revolution | bill kristol | sanctions | vladimir putin | ukraine

Bill Kristol: Time for US to Get Tough With Russia

By Bill Hoffmann   |   Thursday, 13 Mar 2014 05:53 PM

The United States should put the economic and political screws to Russia for its aggressive military push into Ukraine, says Bill Kristol, founder and editor of The Weekly Standard.

"I would be happy if we move progressively on sanctions against [Russian President Vladimir] Putin's cronies, on travel bans, cutting off access to their bank accounts," Kristol told "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV.

"That would put some real pressure on Putin. I would be happy if we strengthened NATO relations and alliances, I would be happy if we tried to get Ukraine closer to us."

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Russian navy ships have reportedly blockaded the strait separating the Ukrainian Black Sea peninsula — just days after troops, believed to be backed by Russia, invaded Crimea.

The United States has not been tough enough so far, according to Kristol, who also is an ABC News contributor.

"[There are] a lot of opportunities here, but the talk at this point from [President Barack] Obama and [Secretary of State John] Kerry is pretty pointless," he said.

"If it's not backed up by strong and coordinated actions, coordinated with our allies, it almost becomes counterproductive."

On the subject of lessening sentences for drug offenses as Attorney General Eric Holder wants, Kristol says he is "skeptical."

"I'm sympathetic to efforts to reform the criminal justice system.... You don’t want to just lock up two-plus million people and sort of throw away the key," he said.

"On the other hand it's better to lock up violent criminals and Holder and a lot of people talking about drug offenses are exaggerating how many truly nonviolent kind of people who just happen to smoke a joint and get arrested get stuck in jail.

"Some of those who have been convicted for that really are violent or are drug dealers and they plea bargain down.... I'm a little worried that we're taking for granted the success we've had and the last thing we need in our society is a resurgence of criminality."

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