Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal on Monday joined the chorus of Republicans urging President Barack Obama to take a stronger stance against Russia and arm the Ukrainians.
Just hours before President Barack Obama meets with his German counterpart on the issue, Jindal argued that the U.S. needs to change Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “calculus” by providing weapons and assistance to the Ukrainian government in their fight against Russian-backed separatists. Jindal also argued that Russia should face more sanctions for its continued aggression against Ukraine.
Jindal argued that Putin invaded Crimea last year and has continued to support separatists in eastern Ukraine because “he neither feared nor respected the leadership in the West, especially the United States.
“The reality is our enemies today don’t fear us, our allies don’t consistently trust us,” Jindal said Monday during a breakfast with reporters sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor.
Specifically, Jindal pointed to Obama’s 2009 decision to scrap plans to install missile defense systems in the Czech Republic as a precursor to Putin’s invasion in Crimea.
“I think what Putin read in all that was weakness,” Jindal said. “We know he went to Crimea in part because he didn’t fear real consequences, he didn’t fear real repercussions. We know that many of his actions are based on what he views as a White House that has itself said it’s going to be leading from behind when it’s not leading at all.”
Jindal was referring to a quote from an unnamed White House official that appeared in a May 2014 New Yorker article that Republicans consistently point to as the crux of Obama’s foreign policy.
Jindal, who is considering a presidential run, also took the opportunity to wrap former Secretary of State and likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton into his criticism, pointing to the failed diplomatic effort to “reset” relations with Russia early in Obama’s term.
The potential Republican candidate continued to insist that the combination of weapons assistance to Ukraine and additional sanctions could change Putin’s calculus.
The U.S. has so far only provided Ukraine with non-lethal assistance, but is now considering supplying the Ukrainians with lethal defensive weapons.
And as France and Germany are leading the tip of a Western diplomatic spear they hope will end the conflict in Ukraine, Jindal called those efforts positive but said he was concerned a new agreement wouldn’t accomplish much.
“The reality is the last agreements haven’t been respected by the separatists, by the Russians,” Jindal said.