The move by Russia's state-controlled energy company to hike the price it charges for natural gas is indicative of Russian President Vladimir Putin's blatant disregard for the Obama administration, says Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.
"This is yet another example of Putin looking at President Obama's foreign policy and making the smart calculation that Putin can do whatever he wants without fear that the White House will react with anything more than empty threats," she told Newsmax TV's John Bachman and J.D. Hayworth on "America's Forum" Wednesday.
"We've seen this time and time again, so much so that the president's lead from behind policy has not only eroded our influence, damaged our credibility around the world, but it has hurt our relations with other countries and it has certainly shown tyrants like Putin, Assad, Maduro in Venezuela, Kim Jong Un, Khamenei and the Castros that the US lacks the courage of its convictions," she said.
"For sure, Putin is not going to stop with just annexing Crimea. The Obama administration has misguidedly dismissed Putin and his provocations as those of a weakened Russia acting out, and it's such an astonishing, dangerous view to take, one that could seriously harm our U.S. national security interests if we continue to downplay these threats."
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Ros-Lehtinen represents Florida's 27th congressional district and served as chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee from 2011-2013. In 1989, she became the first Cuban American and Latina elected to Congress.
She said she is also concerned about the ongoing violence in Venezuela and the White House's failure to bolster pro-democracy activists protesting the government of President Nicolas Maduro.
"There have been over 30 people killed as a result of Maduro's violent attempt to suppress dissent. Opposition leaders like Leopoldo Lopez — he has been in military prison for over a month. Maria Corina Machado is a member of the national legislature. She was stripped of her seat last week. Why? Because she dared to come to the United States and try to speak at the OAS, a totally useless, inept body that denied her the right to speak, and for that they stripped her of her immunities. Soon she will be charged," Ros-Lehtinen explained.
"What is the administration doing on Venezuela? Nothing. What is it saying on Venezuela? Nothing. The administration has repeatedly said that we need to work with the OAS. The OAS is a useless body; it's like talking to the UN. So we've had five years of failed foreign policy and it's not going to work."
Ros-Lehtinen argued that the Obama administration has to block Iran's choice of Hamid Aboutalebi, a member of the student group that stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in 1979 and took 52 Americans hostage, as its ambassador to the U.N.
"As chairman of the Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee, we've reached out to our members. We're sending a communication to John Kerry saying that the U.S. has the authority to not accept this ambassador as a permanent representative of Iran at the U.N. We've got the Article 5, Section 15 of the U.N. Headquarters Agreement," she said.
"We cannot allow this terrorist to have a seat at the U.N. The inmates are running the asylum over there."
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