In his most aggressive criticisms on the subject to day, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) said President Obama should stop “agonizing over what our respective legal teams think” and wake up to the fact that Russian President Vladimir Putin is on a quest to reassemble the Soviet Union.
“Today his sights are set on Ukraine, but if he continues undeterred tomorrow it could be Estonia, Latvia, Moldova, Romania, the Czech Republic, or Poland,” Cruz said, calling on Obama to reinstate a canceled missile defense system in Poland and begin withdrawing from the New START Treaty.
“With a few strokes of his pen, Vladimir Putin has in recent days both created the Republic of Crimea and annexed that new entity into the Russian Federation, thereby violating the territorial integrity of Ukraine,” Cruz said. “To hear Putin tell it in his address to the Duma, this action is not only perfectly legal, it also rights a historical wrong in which Russia was ‘robbed’ of its rightful claim to the Crimean peninsula in 1954.”
Cruz argued that Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine is just the beginning of a larger course of action by Putin: the reassembly of the Soviet Union.
“President Obama has disputed the legality of these actions, observing that ‘President Putin seems to have a different set of lawyers making a different set of interpretations, but I don’t think that’s fooling anyone,'” Cruz said. “The reality, however, is that Putin is not concerned with international law or historical justice. His sole focus is on correcting what he considers to be the ‘greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century’ by reassembling the Soviet Union. Ukraine is only a step in this process. That is the real challenge the United States has to face, which we cannot do when we are agonizing over what our respective legal teams think.”
In order to stop Putin, Cruz called on the Obama administration to strengthen–instead of continuing to weaken–America’s missile defense outfits in Europe. Cruz points to Ronald Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) as a “historical model we can consult for guidance in this crisis,” saying the U.S. should follow the strategy Reagan laid out 30 years ago.
“The Obama administration has unfortunately shown little enthusiasm for missile defense, beginning with the decision to cancel plans for a ballistic missile defense system in Central Europe, announced on the 70th anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Poland on September 17, 2009,” Cruz said. “This pattern continued with the arbitrary and unnecessary concessions made to the Russians limiting our global deployment of missile defense in the New START that was implemented in 2011 and remains in force until 2021.”
Cruz cites a recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, titled “Regional Missile Defense: DOD’s Report Provided Limited Information; Assessment of Acquisition Risks is Optimistic” that concluded the few missile defense projects still planned for Europe will be delayed due to a variety of cost and technological issues, something Cruz said is “a failure that would not have been tolerated if missile defense was a priority for the Commander in Chief.”
Cruz said while the timing of the report is “inopportune” given the ongoing geopolitical battles between the U.S. and Russia, it should serve as a “wake-up call” to President Obama on missile defense. Cruz called on Obama to take three specific steps now to strengthen the U.S. national security interests in Europe.
First, Cruz said, Obama should “begin the process of withdrawing from New START.”
Second, Cruz called on Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel needs to “engage in a full re-assessment of our missile defense posture in Europe with the purpose of restoring or expanding the installations cancelled in 2009.”
Thirdly, Cruz said Hagel should “engage in a thorough review of the delays and costs over-runs of the existing missile defense programs for Europe with the goal of accelerating their scheduled implementation.”
Cruz said that if Obama does not stand up and take these steps, Putin will continue to expand his occupations and annexations to fulfill his larger goal. “Today his sights are set on Ukraine, but if he continues undeterred tomorrow it could be Estonia, Latvia, Moldova, Romania, the Czech Republic, or Poland,” Cruz said. “Meeting his challenge now with strength, not appeasement, would be the best way to ensure that this does not happen, and that we do not squander our hard-won Cold War victory over the Soviets.”