Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) echoed Ronald Reagan’s famous challenge to former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev on Tuesday when he officially called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to return territory Russia annexed earlier this year back to Ukraine.
“Mr. Putin, give back Crimea,” Cruz said at the Young America’s Foundation in Washington. “Why is it so unimaginable for President Obama to utter those words?”
Cruz, a potential 2016 presidential contender, has made foreign policy hawkishness a key part of his political brand. Speaking before the group of conservative college students Tuesday, he repeatedly accused Obama of being unwilling to aggressively challenge the United States’ geopolitical foes.
“We need to stand up and speak out for freedom,” said Cruz. “The words that come from the president of the United States matter. President Reagan demonstrated that. One of the saddest things is President Obama doesn’t do that.”
Cruz cited Ukraine, where Russia took over Crimea and separatists backed by Moscow are continuing to fight the government, as a specific case where the United States should have a bolder foreign policy.
“Ukraine is a good example to use,” said Cruz. “I think we should have done several things immediately. Number one, I think we should have gone forward with installing the anti-ballistic missile batteries … that were scheduled to go into effect and that President Obama canceled in 2009 in an effort to appease Putin.”
Cruz suggested Obama’s reluctance to more forcefully fight Putin’s push into Ukraine was tantamount to “appeasement.”
“It’s pretty clear that appeasement didn’t work,” he said.
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