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Romney: Obama shows ‘naiveté’ in handling of Russia

Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney was sharply critical of President Obama's handling of Russia's recent annexation of Crimea, hitting his 2012 presidential rival for "naivete" and a failure of leadership.

During an appearance on CBS's "Face the Nation" Sunday, the former Republican presidential nominee said Obama should have been more proactive prior to the Russia's annexation -- and should have threatened the Russians with the possibility of sanctions before they took action to take over the region.

"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 declared. "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."

Romney repeated past criticism of the Obama administration -- singling out former secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton and current Secretary of State John Kerry -- that the nation's standing internationally has suffered.

"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 said. "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."

Appearing later in the broadcast, Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill) pushed back on Romney's suggestion that the Obama administration should have been more aggressive in handling Russia.

Calling Russian President Vladimir Putin a "bully," Durbin said that he disagreed with "this notion that some sanction is going to stop a former colonel in the KGB of his Soviet ambitions."

Wesley Lowery is a national reporter covering law enforcement and justice for the Washington Post. He previously covered Congress and national politics.



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