Graham: Obama misjudges Russian adversary

Greg Nash

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said Monday that President Obama has no awareness of the adversary he faces in Russia.

Graham responded almost immediately in a short burst of tweets after President Obama called on Russia and President Vladimir Putin to pressure pro-Russia separatists in Eastern Ukraine to allow international monitors to the crash site of the Malaysia Airlines flight that was shot down last week, killing nearly 300 people.

"President Obama has no situational awareness regarding the adversaries he faces," Graham said. "President Obama continues to pursue diplomatic solutions while Russia and their separatist allies continue to dismember the Ukraine."

The United States has said there is strong circumstantial evidence that the plane was shot down by pro-Russian separatists in the area and has blamed Russia for helping to destabilize the region with its support of the separatists.

On Monday from the south lawn, Obama said costs would increase for Russia, if it continues to support the separatists with training and weapons, mentioning no specifics. Obama said he still favors a diplomatic resolution and called on Russia to pivot away from its current strategy of support.

"My preference continues to be finding a diplomatic resolution within Ukraine. I believe that can still happen. That is my preference today, and it will continue to be my preference," Obama said.

Obama called on Putin to insist pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine quit tampering with evidence at the crash site and allow an immediate, full and unimpeded investigation by international monitors.

"The burden now is on Russia to insist that the separatists stop tampering with the evidence, grant investigators who are already on the ground immediate, full and unimpeded access to the crash site," Obama said.

The U.N. Security Council is expected to vote on a resolution Monday calling for all in the region to cooperate fully with an investigation.

Obama thanked Putin for saying he supports a thorough investigation but said Putin needs to follow up with action.