Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) on Tuesday defended Russia’s annexation of Crimea, arguing that the people of the region had a right to secede from Ukraine, Buzzfeed reported.
“From what I understand, what happened in Crimea, not one person was killed. Maybe one — maybe there was one,” he said during a markup of the Ukraine Support Act in the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
“What happened in Kosovo, when we were supporting self-determination, which we should have supported, and in Sudan, where we’re talking about thousands of people who lost their lives. Yet we have to go and condemn the Russians, of course, when no one lost their life in an attempt to make sure the people of Crimea had a right to control their own destiny and their own self-determination.”
There have not been any confirmed deaths as a result of clashes between Ukrainian and Russian forces in Crimea. But last week the interim Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk blamed the death of a Ukrainian soldier on Russian forces.
Rohrabacher suggested that Congress was still stuck in a Cold War mentality and said it was “hypocrisy” to label Russian actions “aggression.”
“There are many people who I worked with over the years who are still stuck in the Cold War. They cannot sit by and understand that Russia has its national interests, as we have our national interests,” he said. “What do the people of Crimea want? I don’t think anybody in here will disagree with the fact that it is clear the people of Crimea would rather be part of Russia than be part of a pro-European or European-directed Ukraine.”
The congressman did concede that Russia should not have invaded Crimea.
In September, Rohrabacher had some words of admiration for Russian President Vladimir Putin, recalling the time he once arm-wrestled him.
“He is tough! He just – muscles were just unbelievable,” Rohrabacher told Southern California Public Radio. “You know he’s a tough guy and he’s supposed to be a tough guy, that’s what the Russian people want.”