John McCain on Russia: No More Reset Buttons

And other actions the United States needs to take in the Ukraine crisis, according to the senator after his trip to Kiev.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., shakes hands with a protester during a mass opposition rally at Independence Square during his first visit to Kiev since the crisis, in December.
National Journal
Marina Koren
March 16, 2014, 6:44 a.m.

Fresh off a vis­it to Ukraine, Sen. John Mc­Cain laid out his pro­posed plan for U.S. ac­tion against Rus­sia’s in­ter­ven­tion in Ukraine on Sunday.

The Re­pub­lic­an from Ari­zona led a bi­par­tis­an del­eg­a­tion of sen­at­ors to Kiev over the week­end to com­mu­nic­ate U.S. sup­port for the new gov­ern­ment. Right now, as cit­izens of Crimea cast their votes in a ref­er­en­dum to be­come part of Rus­sia, Mc­Cain says he’s not sure what could stop Rus­si­an Pres­id­ent Vladi­mir Putin from an­nex­ing the ter­rit­ory. But the U.S. isn’t out of op­tions just yet.

“The United States of Amer­ica, first of all, has to have a fun­da­ment­al re­as­sess­ment of our re­la­tion­ship with Vladi­mir Putin,” Mc­Cain told Candy Crow­ley on CNN’s State of the Uni­on Sunday morn­ing. “No more re­set but­tons, no more ‘tell Vladi­mir I’ll be more flex­ible.’ Treat him for what he is.” The sen­at­or was re­fer­ring to the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion’s hopes of re­set­ting tense U.S.-Rus­sia re­la­tions, and Pres­id­ent Obama’s re­marks dur­ing mis­sile talks in 2012 to former Rus­si­an Pres­id­ent Dmitry Med­ve­dev that Obama would have more flex­ib­il­ity “after my elec­tion.”

{{ BIZOBJ (video: 4818) }}

Mc­Cain con­tin­ued: “That does not mean re­igni­tion of the Cold War, but it does mean treat­ing him in the way that we un­der­stand an in­di­vidu­al who be­lieves in restor­ing the old Rus­si­an em­pire.”

Here’s what the sen­at­or thinks the U.S. should do next:

  • Im­pose eco­nom­ic sanc­tions where it would hurt most. “Rus­sia is a gas sta­tion mas­quer­ad­ing as a coun­try,” he said. “It is a na­tion that’s really only de­pend­ent upon oil and gas for their eco­nomy.”
  • Provide a long-term mil­it­ary as­sist­ance plan, which could in­clude sup­ply­ing the Ukrain­i­an gov­ern­ment with weapons, am­muni­tion, and in­tel­li­gence sup­port. “No boots on the ground,” Mc­Cain said, though he did sug­gest de­liv­er­ing hu­man­it­ari­an aid to the re­gion us­ing U.S. mil­it­ary air­craft.
  • Re­sume a Bush-era Pentagon plan to build a the mis­sile-de­fense sys­tem in Po­land and the Czech Re­pub­lic that Obama can­celed in 2009. Back then, the pro­pos­al was met with hos­til­ity from Rus­sia.
  • Put Mol­dova, a na­tion that re­mains well un­der Rus­sia’s “sphere of in­flu­ence,” on a path to­ward NATO mem­ber­ship. In 2008, when Ukraine began talks to join the mil­it­ary al­li­ance, Rus­sia res­isted the east­ward ex­pan­sion of West­ern in­flu­ence.
  • In the fu­ture, provide Ukraine and European coun­tries with nat­ur­al gas, crude oil, and oth­er en­ergy sup­plies to ease those na­tions’ de­pend­ence on Rus­sia. “We are an abund­ant en­ergy ex­port­er,” Mc­Cain said. “We should be us­ing that — it is a long-term strategy we should be fig­ur­ing out right now.”
  • Make “a long-term com­mit­ment to the free­dom and demo­cracy and the as­sist­ance we can provide Ukraine, in­clud­ing, over time, re­gain­ing Crimea.”

Mc­Cain has been one of the most vo­cal crit­ics of Obama’s hand­ling of the Ukraine crisis. His im­pas­sioned speech on the Sen­ate floor Thursday, the vis­it with new Ukrain­i­an lead­er­ship, and fre­quent me­dia ap­pear­ances are the latest ex­amples of the sen­at­or’s “back-seat pres­id­ent­ing” of the glob­al crisis.

What We're Following See More »
TAKING A LONG VIEW TO SOUTHERN STATES
In Dropout Speech, Santorum Endorses Rubio
2 days ago
THE DETAILS

As expected after earlier reports on Wednesday, Rick Santorum ended his presidential bid. But less expected: he threw his support to Marco Rubio. After noting he spoke with Rubio the day before for an hour, he said, “Someone who has a real understanding of the threat of ISIS, real understanding of the threat of fundamentalist Islam, and has experience, one of the things I wanted was someone who has experience in this area, and that’s why we decided to support Marco Rubio.” It doesn’t figure to help Rubio much in New Hampshire, but the Santorum nod could pay dividends down the road in southern states.

Source:
‘PITTING PEOPLE AGAINST EACH OTHER’
Rubio, Trump Question Obama’s Mosque Visit
2 days ago
WHY WE CARE

President Obama’s decision to visit a mosque in Baltimore today was never going to be completely uncontroversial. And Donald Trump and Marco Rubio proved it. “Maybe he feels comfortable there,” Trump told interviewer Greta van Susteren on Fox News. “There are a lot of places he can go, and he chose a mosque.” And in New Hampshire, Rubio said of Obama, “Always pitting people against each other. Always. Look at today – he gave a speech at a mosque. Oh, you know, basically implying that America is discriminating against Muslims.”

Source:
THE TIME IS NOW, TED
Cruz Must Max Out on Evangelical Support through Early March
2 days ago
WHY WE CARE

For Ted Cruz, a strong showing in New Hampshire would be nice, but not necessary. That’s because evangelical voters only make up 21% of the Granite State’s population. “But from the February 20 South Carolina primary through March 15, there are nine states (South Carolina, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi, and North Carolina) with an estimated white-Evangelical percentage of the GOP electorate over 60 percent, and another four (Texas, Kansas, Louisiana, and Missouri) that come in over 50 percent.” But after that, he better be in the catbird’s seat, because only four smaller states remain with evangelical voter majorities.

Source:
CHRISTIE, BUSH TRYING TO TAKE HIM DOWN
Rubio Now Winning the ‘Endorsement Primary’
2 days ago
WHY WE CARE

Since his strong third-place finish in Iowa, Marco Rubio has won endorsement by two sitting senators and two congressmen, putting him in the lead for the first time of FiveThirtyEight‘s Endorsement Tracker. “Some politicians had put early support behind Jeb Bush — he had led [their] list since August — but since January the only new endorsement he has received was from former presidential candidate Sen. Lindsey Graham.” Meanwhile, the New York Times reports that fueled by resentment, “members of the Bush and Christie campaigns have communicated about their mutual desire to halt … Rubio’s rise in the polls.”

Source:
ARE YOU THE GATEKEEPER?
Sanders: Obama Is a Progressive
1 days ago
THE LATEST

“Do I think President Obama is a progressive? Yeah, I do,” said Bernie Sanders, in response to a direct question in tonight’s debate. “I think they’ve done a great job.” But Hillary Clinton wasn’t content to sit out the latest chapter in the great debate over the definition of progressivism. “In your definition, with you being the gatekeeper of progressivism, I don’t think anyone else fits that definition,” she told Sanders.

×