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 Russia 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 U.S. 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 naïve.
Romney also used the appearance to criticize Hillary Rodham Clinton, Obama’s first secretary of state who now is considering a presidential run in 2016.
Romney said he couldn’t think of a major country that had greater respect and admiration for the U.S. than it did “after five years of the Obama administration and Secretary Clinton.”
“You look over the past five years and say, ‘what’s happened?’ Good things have not been bursting out all over,” he said.
Durbin, the second-ranking Senate Democrat, said on CBS that Romney suffered from “political amnesia.”
“Osama bin Laden is gone. The war in Iraq is over. Afghanistan is coming to a close. And this president has worked with many of these nations successfully to put pressure on Iran, the sanctions, bringing them to the negotiating table,” Durbin said.
He said Romney has “forgotten those facts.”