By Kevin Freking
WASHINGTON: Mitt Romney said Sunday that President Barack Obama is naive when it comes to Russia, has shown “faulty judgment” about Moscow’s intentions and could have done more to try to deter its annexation of Crimea.
The 2012 Republican presidential nominee said Obama didn’t have the foresight to anticipate Russia’s moves and should have been working earlier with allies to make clear the penalties that Russia would face if it moved into Ukraine.
Romney did acknowledge that such steps may not have been enough though to hold back Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“Had we communicated those things, there’s always the potential that we could have kept them from invading a country and annexing it into their own,” Romney said on CBS’ Face the Nation.
During the 2012 campaign, Romney took criticism from Obama for saying Russia was America’s “number one geopolitical foe,” rather than al-Qaida. Now Romney seems to be claiming the right to say, essentially, “I told you so.”
“There’s no question but that the president’s naiveté with regards to Russia, and his faulty judgment about Russia’s intentions and objectives, has led to a number of foreign policy challenges that we face,” Romney said.
“And unfortunately, not having anticipated Russia’s intentions, the president wasn’t able to shape the kinds of events that may have been able to prevent the kinds of circumstances that you’re seeing in the Ukraine, as well as the things that you’re seeing in Syria.”
He said the United States should now welcome nations that seek entry into NATO, should forgo cuts to the U.S. military budget and reconsider putting a missile defense system into the Czech Republic and Poland, as once planned.
During the 2012 campaign, Romney had tried to portray the Democratic incumbent as soft on Russia. Writing in Foreign Policy magazine, he said that “for three years, the sum total of President Obama’s policy toward Russia has been: ‘We give, Russia gets.’ ”
Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., who just returned from Ukraine, said it was Romney who was naive.
Durbin, referring to Putin, a former officer in the Soviet KGB, said Putin is “a bully and we’ve got to call him for what he is. But this notion that some sanction is going to stop a former colonel in the KGB from his ambitions of a Russian empire is naive.