Military options are off the table for the United States as it looks to counter Russia’s military occupation of Crimea, Sen. John McCain said on Monday.
“There is not a military option that can be exercised now,” the Arizona Republican said, but he stressed that the United States should still have a wide variety of options including economic sanctions and targeting individuals responsible for the invasion.
His comments, which came at the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee policy conference, echoed those from a trio of administration officials on Sunday.
“Right now, I think we are focused on political and economic and diplomatic options…. So we have not — and, frankly, our goal is to uphold the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine, not to have a military escalation,” a senior administration official said, when asked if the United States is currently considering military options as part of its response.
Another senior administration official added that getting the military involved wouldn’t help de-escalate the situation.
The United States, in coordination with NATO and European Union allies, is considering a range of other options, the officials said. Those could include “isolation, potential sanctions, and relationships between Russia and international institutions.”
But while McCain doesn’t believe President Obama has military options, he does think the White House shoulders some blame for Russia’s bold moves in Crimea.
“This is the ultimate result of a feckless foreign policy where nobody believes in America’s strength anymore,” McCain said.
Obama spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin over the weekend, and Vice President Joe Biden spoke with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on Monday.
What direct impact those talks are having is murky. U.S. officials have repeatedly called on Russia to draw back its forces, but Ukraine said on Monday that Russia is calling on the crews of two Ukrainian warships to surrender or face attack. Russian officials have denied making that threat.
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Monday that if the reports are true, it would constitute a “dangerous escalation of the situation, for which we would hold Russia directly responsible.”
The U.N. Security Council is scheduled to hold an emergency meeting Monday afternoon on Ukraine.
And McCain on Monday stressed that the situation in Ukraine is also tied to current negotiations in the Middle East, including those over Iran’s nuclear program and the Syrian chemical weapons deal. U.S. and Russian officials have worked together on both fronts.
McCain added: “The president of the United States believes that the Cold War is over, and that’s fine if it is over, but Putin doesn’t believe its over. He doesn’t believe that this is a zero-sum game.”
What We're Following See More »
"Drug overdoses killed about 72,000 Americans last year, a record number that reflects a rise of around 10 percent, according to new preliminary estimates from the Centers for Disease Control. The death toll is higher than the peak yearly death totals from H.I.V., car crashes or gun deaths. Analysts pointed to two major reasons for the increase: A growing number of Americans are using opioids, and drugs are becoming more deadly."
"The San Francisco office of the SEC has sent subpoenas to Tesla regarding its privatization plans and Musk’s statement to determine whether the billionaire inventor intentionally misled investors," according to a report on Fox Business. "Tesla, in response, has also hired two law firms, Paul, Weiss, Rifkin, Wharton & Garrison to help deal with the SEC, and Latham & Watkins to advise on privatization."
"President Trump on Wednesday revoked the security clearance of John O. Brennan, the former C.I.A. director under President Barack Obama, citing what he called Mr. Brennan’s “erratic” behavior. The White House had threatened last month to strip Mr. Brennan and two other Obama administration officials — Susan E. Rice, the former national security adviser; and James R. Clapper Jr., the former director of national intelligence — of their security clearances." Mr. Brennan has been highly critical of Trump on Twitter and in television appearances.
The FBI have investigated "a series of cyberattacks over the past year that targeted a Democratic opponent of Rep. Dana Rohrabacher," widely seen as the "most pro-Russia and pro-Putin member of Congress." The hacks against his Democratic opponent, Hans Keirstead, "began in August 2017 with a spear-phishing attempt... sent to Keirstead’s work email address," which was ultimately successful. Later attacks focused on his twitter account, and "Keirstead's campaign’s website and hosting service." Keirstead fell "125 votes short of advancing to the general election in one of the narrowest margins of any congressional primary this year," and has since endorsed Rohrabacher's opponent Harley Rouda.