Lawmakers: Ukraine tensions prompt Cold War fears

Putting pressure on Putin
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Story highlights

  • Key lawmakers raise Cold War fears following Ukraine disaster
  • House Homeland Security Committee chair concerned tension could impact U.S. security
  • Russia under scrutiny in suspected rebel downing of passenger jet in Ukraine

Deadly violence, ongoing tensions and the deliberate downing of a passenger airplane. Though that turbulence is happening far away from American streets -- in Eastern Ukraine -- why should Americans worry?

One reason: renewed fears of a return to Cold War relations between the United States and Russia.

Two powerful members of Congress spoke on the matter during separate interviews on CNN's "State of the Union."

Sen. Dianne Feinstein is the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. Does she believe that U.S. and Russian relations are now at Cold War levels?

"Yes," the California Democrat said bluntly.

Meanwhile, Rep. Michael McCaul, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, was asked if U.S. security is under any threat because of the situation in Eastern Ukraine.

Rep. McCaul: This is a new Cold War
Rep. McCaul: This is a new Cold War

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"Oh, I mean, sure it is," the Texas Republican said. "And I think this is a game changer, what happened, the downing of this commercial flight by separatists tied to Putin. I think Putin is responsible and complicit for what happened."

He continued: "Why is that important to Americans? Because I believe ... that we are, Mr. Putin is returning to a Cold War mentality. When I was over there, you could see its nationalistic pride, a sort of resurgence to regain the glory of the old days as the Soviet Empire."

However, McCaul explained a crucial difference.

"It's not the al Qaeda threat," he said. "But it's the threat of brute force. It's the threat that could involve submarine warfare. We know that Russia's more fully engaged in every aspect of that type of warfare. And that concerns me from a homeland security standpoint."

Feinstein: Putin should 'man up' on plane disaster