By Rebecca Shabad - 03/04/14 08:14 AM EST
Former Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul on Tuesday called President Vladimir Putin’s decision to invade Crimea an “emotional reaction” and said Putin doesn’t know what to do next.
“What he did in Crimea was a emotional reaction to his being extremely disappointed with the fall of the government, the fall of [Ukrainian] President [Viktor] Yanukovych a few weeks before,” McFaul said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”
In a press conference an hour earlier, Putin defended his decision to use military force in Ukraine and called the ousting of Yanukovych an “illegitimate coup.”
“I think he is not sure what the end game is. That gives a chance for people like Secretary Kerry to try to figure out a diplomatic solution to restore Ukraine’s territorial integrity,” said McFaul, who just left his diplomatic post in Moscow.
Also on Tuesday, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) accused President Obama of being “feckless” and “weak” in handling the crisis overseas, but McFaul rejected his comments.
“Putin thinks that this is his backyard. This doesn’t have anything to do with Barack Obama,” he said. “I’ve dealt with this guy [Putin] for five years now, and I’ve listened to him speak. He thinks in those 19th century spheres of influence terms.”
McCain later appeared on “Morning Joe” and reiterated the Obama administration has “a fundamental misreading of Vladimir Putin.”
The U.S. must prevent Putin from encroaching on eastern Ukraine, said McCain, adding that assisting Ukraine’s economy and bringing Georgia into NATO can be the next steps.