By Mike Lillis - 03/23/14 11:51 AM EDT
President Obama's "naiveté" and "failed" leadership only encouraged Russia's recent invasion of Ukraine, Mitt Romney charged this weekend.
"There's no question but that the president's naiveté with regards to Russia, and his faulty judgment about Russia's intentions and objectives, has led to a number of foreign policy challenges that we face," Romney said Sunday on CBS's "Face the Nation" program. "And unfortunately, not having anticipated Russia's intentions, the president wasn't able to shape the kinds of events that may have been able to prevent the kinds of circumstances that you're seeing in the Ukraine."
Since the invasion, Obama has adopted a series of sanctions on Russian officials and businessmen with close ties to the Kremlin, while threatening broader restrictions on Russia's vital industries if Putin's actions escalate.
Congress has also joined the debate, with both the House and Senate expected to take up sanctions bills, likely this week.
Putin has largely shrugged off those threats, however, and on Saturday, Russia continued its assertive effort to solidify its grip on Crimea by overtaking two Ukrainian military facilities based there.
Romney said Putin has been emboldened by ineffective policies championed not only Obama, but also by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who's eying a 2016 presidential run.
"Effective leaders typically are able to see the future to a certain degree, and then try to take actions to shape it in some way. And that's of course what this president has failed to do, and his Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as well," Romney charged. "They thought resetting relations with Russia, handing out gifts to Russia, would somehow make Russia change its objectives. Well, that certainly wasn't the case."
Pushing back, Sen. Dick Durbin (Ill.), the Senate majority whip and a close Obama ally, told CBS that Romney couldn't be more wrong. He cited several examples where a bellicose U.S. foreign policy did nothing to discourage international strongmen from invading other nations, including Putin's incursion into Georgia even after the Bush administration had launched wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"I disagree and so does history," Durbin said. "Let's call it for what it is."