- The Washington Times - Monday, March 17, 2014

Count Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, among those unimpressed with President Obama’s response to Crimea’s taking steps to split from Ukraine and align with Russia.

“I don’t know how it could have been weaker besides doing nothing,” Mr. McCain said on MSNBC Monday afternoon. “Seven people being sanctioned after naked aggression has taken place? I can tell you our friends in Ukraine are brave and they’re dedicated and they’re willing to fight.”

The Obama administration on Monday imposed a new round of sanctions on Russian officials, self-declared leaders in Crimea and others deemed responsible for the unrest and instability in Ukraine.

In an executive order, Mr. Obama named seven Russian officials whose U.S. assets now will be frozen and “may not be transferred, paid, exported, withdrawn or otherwise dealt.” Others, including former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, also have been targeted.

Mr. McCain did note that there is a small base of about 600 Marines in Crimea and so it will be interesting to see what comes of that.

“But overall, they feel to a large degree that we are not giving them the support that we had hoped for,” the 2008 GOP presidential nominee said. “Interestingly, [German Chancellor] Angela Merkel’s statements have been stronger than the president’s, but also again, America leads. A fundamental criticism I’ve had of this administration for a long time is their lack of desire or understanding of the importance of American leadership.”

He said he’s glad Vice President Joseph R. Biden is planning to travel to the region, but that he also thinks there needs to be a long-term plan to help countries in the region wean themselves off their dependence on Russian energy sources.

“That will be a major effort that we have to undertake,” he said.

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