Rand Paul: I wouldn't let Putin get away with this

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said that, if he were president, he would not let Russian President Vladimir Putin get away with his incursion into Ukraine. 

Paul on Monday described the movement of Russian troops into the Crimean Peninsula as a gross violation of Ukrainian sovereignty and argued it is the United States’ responsibility to take the lead in condemning it.

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He also criticized President Obama's policies toward Russia, arguing they have emboldened Putin. 

“The real problem is that Russia’s president is not currently fearful or threatened in any way by America’s president, despite his country’s blatant aggression,” Paul wrote in a Time magazine op-ed. “But let me be clear: If I were president, I wouldn’t let Vladimir Putin get away with it.”

Paul, fresh off a straw poll victory at the Conservative Political Action Conference, called on the administration to suspend all U.S. aid and loans to Ukraine. He argued that money would just end up in Russia's hands, given Ukraine's gas bill to Russian-owned Gazprom.

Paul did not mention the House's passage last week of $1 billion loan guarantees to Ukraine.

“Currently, these could have the counterproductive effect of rewarding Russia,” he said.  “Ukraine owes so much money to Russia that America would essentially be borrowing from China to give to Ukraine.”

Paul argued the U.S. should immediately remove any obstacle preventing the U.S. from exporting natural gas to Europe. He argued that step would make Europe less dependent on Russian natural gas.

"Because of so many of our current needless laws and regulations, President Obama has left Europe completely vulnerable because of its dependence on Russian oil and gas," Paul said.

He also called for the immediate approval of the Keystone XL pipeline.

He said he would also reinstate missile defense sites in Poland and the Czech Republican but would make sure European allies pay for it. Paul said turmoil around the world cannot let the United States forget it is “broke.”

Paul also offered backing for economic sanctions and blocking Russian officials' visas, saying they should be imposed without delay. The White House announced sanctions last week but has yet to impose them on specific Russian entities or officials.

He said the U.S. should take the lead in boycotting the G-8 summit in Sochi later this summer and remove Russia from the group if its troops still occupy Crimea at the time of the meeting. 

“This does not and should not require military action,” he said. “No one in the U.S. is calling for this. But it will require other actions and leadership, both of which President Obama unfortunately lacks.”

Finally, Paul argued that the biggest threat to U.S. security is its debt.

“Like Dwight Eisenhower, I believe the U.S. can actually be stronger by doing less,” he said. “Like Ronald Reagan, particularly regarding Russia, I also believe, ‘Don’t mistake our reluctance for war for a lack of resolve.’ ”