Mitt Romney, who knows a thing or two about missed opportunities, thinks President Barack Obama’s “terrible timing” on foreign policy contributed to the crisis in Ukraine.
The former presidential candidate wrote an op-ed Monday in the Wall Street Journal titled “The Price Of Failed Leadership” that lamented what he said was the President’s tendency to let the point in a foreign policy crisis when the U.S. has “good choices and good options” pass by.
“When protests in Ukraine grew and violence ensued, it was surely evident to people in the intelligence community—and to the White House—that President Putin might try to take advantage of the situation to capture Crimea, or more,” Romney wrote. “That was the time to talk with our global allies about punishments and sanctions, to secure their solidarity, and to communicate these to the Russian president. These steps, plus assurances that we would not exclude Russia from its base in Sevastopol or threaten its influence in Kiev, might have dissuaded him from invasion.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin approved a draft bill Tuesday that takes a step toward annexing Ukraine’s Crimea region, after residents voted overwhelmingly Sunday to join that country. The U.S. did not recognize the results of the referendum and slapped sanctions on eleven Russian and Ukrainian officials in response.
Romney expressed optimism that Secretary of State John Kerry can still succeed in de-escalating the crisis if he makes the right move at the right time. But he placed the blame for Russia’s aggression squarely on Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
“Their failure has been painfully evident: It is hard to name even a single country that has more respect and admiration for America today than when President Obama took office, and now Russia is in Ukraine,” he wrote. “Part of their failure, I submit, is due to their failure to act when action was possible, and needed.”
Catherine Thompson is a senior editor for Talking Points Memo in New York City. She came to the site in 2013 and reported on national affairs. Previously, she worked as a research assistant to investigative reporter Wayne Barrett. She can be reached at email@example.com.