Sen. Graham: When Obama Threatens Putin, 'Everybody's Eyes Roll'

Susan Jones | March 3, 2014 | 5:28am EST
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Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) (AP File Photo)

( - President Barack Obama should "stop going on television and trying to threaten thugs and dictators," because "it's not his strong suit," Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told CNN's "State of the Union" with Candy Crowley on Sunday.

"Every time the president goes on national television and threatens Putin or anyone like Putin, everybody's eyes roll, including mine. We have a weak and indecisive president that invites aggression. President Obama needs to do something. How about this: suspend Russian membership in the G-8, in the G-20, at least for a year, starting right now, and for every day they stay in their Crimea, add to the suspension. Do something."

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), appearing with Graham, said he expects the president to speak out against Putin's "bully" tactics, and he noted that the administration already has suggested removing Russia from the G-8.

"Now what Congress has to do, what the Senate should do, quickly, is a resolution condemning what Putin has done; second, saying that if Ukraine will stand up for real reform, that we're going to back them through the IMF, and making it clear to our allies in NATO that that alliance is strong, and neighbors of Russia -- that we are going to do everything in our power to discourage further aggression by Putin."

Durbin said Putin must be made to feel like "there's a price to pay for this kind of conduct."

Graham said he'd like to "create a democratic noose around Putin's Russia," by accelerating Georgia's NATO membership.

"If I were President Obama, I would re-engage Poland and the Czech Republic regarding missile defense," Graham said. "I would admit Georgia to NATO. I would have a larger military presence in the Balkans. To NATO members who are threatened by Russia, I would fly the NATO flag as strongly as I could around Putin. I would suspend his membership in the G-8. It would be the G-7. The G-20 would become the G-19, at least for a year. And every day he stays in the Ukraine, I would add to it."

Russia must be "isolated," Graham said, and if it is not -- "shame on us all."

"This is an invasion," Graham said. "The Crimea is part of the Ukraine. This is not the way you settle disputes. Can China go in and take islands away from Japan? The Iranians are watching. If we do not decisively push back against Putin and make him weaker and all of our friends in the region stronger, the Iranians are going to misunderstand yet again -- (inaudible) -- regarding their nuclear program.

"So much is at stake. Putin's on the wrong side of history. He's on the wrong side of the law. Make him pay a price. The Ukrainian people are dying for their freedom. I hope we will stand with them, not this -- not just in words, but in deeds."

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