WASHINGTON, March 9 (UPI) -- Former Vice President Dick Cheney said Sunday former Soviet Bloc nations, now in NATO, are worried about the political situation in Crimea.
In view of Russia's intervention last week in Crimea and plans to hold a referendum there regarding annexation, Cheney referred to President Barack Obama as weak on CBS' "Face the Nation," adding the United States should not discount military options in response to Russia's actions.
"A lot of NATO members were part of the old Soviet empire, Warsaw Pact, the Baltic states, Poland, Hungary and so forth, and they are worried when they see [Russian President Vladimir] Putin absolutely ride roughshod over solemn commitments he made and the government of Russia made, like the Budapest Memorandum, when Russia, the U.S. and Britain guaranteed the border of Ukraine in return for Ukraine giving up their nuclear weapons," Cheney said.
He said Putin was ignoring agreements "that led to the end of the Cold War, led to the reunification of Europe and the liberation of millions of people from under the boot heel, if you will, of the Soviet Union. And now he's starting to chip away at that."
Cheney suggested "military options that don't involve putting groups on the ground in Crimea," including reinstatement of the ballistic missile defense program in Poland, joint training exercises with former Soviet Bloc nations now in NATO and military training "for the Ukrainians themselves."
When asked if a new Cold War is about to begin, Cheney demurred, saying "I don't know if it will go that far," but urged the United States to mobilize NATO and other western allies to insure "Putin gets the message that this kind of behavior is unacceptable."