Sen. Mitt Romney ripped Russian President Vladimir Putin late Wednesday over his invasion of Ukraine, calling it “without justification, without provocation and without honor.”
Romney (R-Utah) then turned his criticism toward the US, saying Putin’s attack “predictably follows our tepid response to his previous horrors in Georgia [in 2008] and Crimea [in 2014], our naive efforts at a one-sided ‘reset,’ and the shortsightedness of ‘America First.’
“The ‘80s called’ and we didn’t answer,” Romney added, referencing one of the most infamous moments of his 2012 bid for the White House as the Republican nominee.
During a debate with then-President Barack Obama, Romney described Russia as America’s main “geopolitical foe” while accusing Obama of bowing to Putin.
“The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back because the Cold War’s been over for 20 years…,” Obama jabbed at Romney in response. “When it comes to our foreign policy, you seem to want to import the foreign policies of the 1980s, just like the social policies of the 1950s, and the economic policies of the 1920s.”
Though Romney lost the election, he got a bit of his own back two years later after the Russian annexation of Crimea, when he accused Obama of “not having anticipated Russia’s intentions.”
“His faulty judgment about Russia’s intentions and objectives, has led to a number of foreign policy challenges that we face,” Romney said at the time.
“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, as well as the things that you’re seeing in Syria.”
In his Wednesday statement, Romney claimed that the “peril of again looking away from Putin’s tyranny falls not just on the people of the nations he has violated, it falls on America as well.”
“History shows that a tyrant’s appetite for conquest is never satiated.”
Romney concluded with calling on the US and its allies to “answer the call to protect freedom by subjecting Putin and Russia to the harshest economic penalties, by expelling them from global institutions, and by committing ourselves to the expansion and modernization of our national defense.”
Romney was among the first US legislators to react to Putin’s declaration of war on Ukraine, which triggered ground attacks and airstrikes across the country.
President Biden lambasted Putin’s actions late Wednesday, saying the war will “bring a catastrophic loss of life and human suffering.” The White House is expected to announce additional sanctions on Moscow when Biden speaks to the nation later Thursday.
Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in a statement that Putin’s war “must mark a historical shift in how the world views and deals with the despot in Moscow.”
More than 40 people in Ukraine have been killed since the attack began, and several dozen more have been injured, according to Aleksey Arestovich, adviser to the head of Ukraine’s presidential office.