Putin driving Russia ‘into a ditch,’ Hagel says

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Wednesday slammed Russian President Vladimir Putting for taking “dangerous, escalatory” actions in Ukraine.

“The tension that has been rising and the escalation that has been occurring is because of one individual: the Russian president,” he said during an interview at the Naval War College in Newport, R.I., that was broadcast by CNN.

He defended the administration’s policy of imposing rounds of economic sanctions against Moscow, and cited Wednesday's decision by the French government to suspend  delivery of a pair of warships as evidence that the U.S. approach has been “pretty devastating to Russia.”

Putin is “driving his country into a ditch,” Hagel said.

Hagel's defense of the administration’s Russia policy comes at a time when a growing number of Democratic lawmakers, including the heads of several Senate national security panels, are calling on President Obama to supply arms to Ukraine’s military.

Meanwhile, the U.S. and the European Union are reportedly considering additional sanctions against the Kremlin as a result of its latest military actions in eastern Ukraine.

Hagel declined to say if Russia’s latest incursions over the border were an invasion.

“I’ll leave that to others who worry about how you express yourself. … That’s not my role,” he said.

Hagel said “whatever Putin’s calculations are, they are his calculations” and they would be addressed, including during the NATO summit in Wales.

International leaders must "get this thing sorted out so the world doesn’t go to war over this,” he said.