Romney slams Obama on Ukraine; Senators weigh in on U.S.-Russia tension

WASHINGTON (CBS News) -- Sunday on "Face the Nation," 2012 Republican presidential nominee and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney spoke with Bob Schieffer about the latest developments in Ukraine - and whether Russia could move troops across the border into the neighboring state. In 2012, President Obama was sharply dismissive of Romney's characterization of Russia as a major geopolitical threat. But the former governor's comments now appear prescient, as Vladimir Putin has annexed Crimea and is amassing military forces along the Ukrainian border.

"There's no question... that the president's naivete 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," he told Schieffer.

The former presidential candidate was also highly critical of the way the Obama administration reacted to the uprising this month in Kiev, suggesting that if the president had raised the prospect of Russian sanctions more quickly, the outcome may have been different.

"Had we worked with our allies and said, look, let's talk about the kinds of severe sanctions we would put in place if Russia were to decide to move," Romney said. Had we communicated those things there is always the potential that we could have kept them from invading a country and annexing it into their own."

Romney's comments were picked up by a number of news outlets, including The Huffington Post, The Associated Press, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, NBC News, Politico, MSNBC, McClatchy, The Washington Times, The New York Post, The Week, and The Chicago Sun-Times.

In the wake of Mr. Obama's new economic sanctions against Russia, Schieffer also spoke with Sens. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., and Dick Durbin, D-Ill., about the ongoing crisis in the region.

In an interview from Kiev, where she was heading a congressional delegation, Ayotte applauded the president for the sanctions he issued last week, but she suggested that the U.S. should play an even larger role in bolstering Ukrainian defenses.

"I think we could do more in terms of communications equipment that we can help them with, technical assistance," Ayotte said. "In addition to that, they have put in a request to us and NATO for some small arms. I think there are some things that we could do that don't involve our boots on the ground but really help them also stand up and help their military really at this time."

Durbin fought back against Romney's criticism that the president failed to prevent the Russian annexation of Crimea, citing the fact that Putin successfully invaded neighboring Georgia during the Bush administration.

"In the midst of our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Putin invaded the Republic of Georgia," Durbin said. "Let's call it for what it is. Here is Vladimir Putin with a failing Soviet franchise. And when he can't win the hearts and minds of his neighboring nations, he uses energy extortion, masked gunmen and barbed wire.

Durbin and Ayotte's comments were picked up by The Washington Post, Bloomberg News, CNN, Red Alert Politics, The Hill, and Politico.

  • Peter Fulham

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