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Does Obama or Putin have the stronger hand?
March 3rd, 2014
04:34 PM ET

Does Obama or Putin have the stronger hand?

Tonight on Crossfire, President Barack Obama said the United States is examining a series of economic and diplomatic steps to "isolate Russia," and he called on Congress to work with his administration on an economic assistance package for Ukraine. But Republicans think Obama is mishandling Russia. FULL STORY

At 6:30pm ET on Crossfire: Larry Korb, who supports the President, and Danielle Pletka, one of Obama's harshest critics, join Newt Gingrich and guest host Sally Kohn to debate the crisis in Ukraine.

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We want you to weigh in: Who has a stronger hand in the Ukrainian crisis?

Vote by tweeting Putin or Obama using #Crossfire or comment on our Facebook post. View results below or through our Poptip results page.

Filed under: Danielle Pletka • Fireback • Foreign policy • In the Crossfire • Larry Korb • Newt Gingrich • Obama • Putin • Russia • Sally Kohn • Ukraine
soundoff (54 Responses)
  1. Alan

    Why is Crossfire only on half the time? Seems like it is only on when Wolf is done talking.

    March 11, 2014 at 7:29 pm | Reply
  2. Kyryll

    Officers of Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) loyal to the ousted President Viktor Yanukovich have hacked phones of Estonian Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Paet and High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton and leaked their conversation to the web. The officials discuss their impressions of what's happening in the country after the revolution. The gist of it is that Ukrainian people have no trust in any of the leaders of Maidan.
    However the most striking thing of all is the fact which concerns the use of force during the revolution, particularly the snipers who killed both protesters and officers of the riot police. Mr. Paet reveals astonishing information which confirms the rumours that the snipers were employed by the leaders of Maidan.


    March 5, 2014 at 4:02 pm | Reply
  3. Jim

    Putin has b1tchslapped Obama so many times there is a red hand impression on the side of Obama's face. US foreign policy stinks as we constantly capitualte to foreign leaders. Putin knows he can push Obama around and he relishes in doing it publicly. He made Obama look bad in Syria and now in the Ukraine. Plus there is no help from former SOS Clinton and current SOS Kerry – Both spineless do-nothings.

    March 5, 2014 at 2:45 pm | Reply
    • Timepass

      Perhaps Obama is wiser than you think. Ukraine is a bankrupt state, and the protesters, now leaders, are an acknowledged Neo Nazi group and downright anti-semitic. See the Guardian UK:

      And many of those on the streets aren't very keen on democracy at all.

      You'd never know from most of the reporting that far-right nationalists and fascists have been at the heart of the protests and attacks on government buildings. One of the three main opposition parties heading the campaign is the hard-right antisemitic Svoboda, whose leader Oleh Tyahnybok claims that a "Moscow-Jewish mafia" controls Ukraine. But US senator John McCain was happy to share a platform with him in Kiev last month. The party, now running the city of Lviv, led a 15,000-strong torchlit march earlier this month in memory of the Ukrainian fascist leader Stepan Bandera, whose forces fought with the Nazis in the second world war and took part in massacres of Jews.

      So you want people like the followers of Stepan Bandera to rule Ukraine. Why? Why would Obama want to support them. If he is wise, he would let them become a part of Russia and become their headache.

      March 5, 2014 at 3:26 pm | Reply
    • Kath

      Wonder if you recall that Bush then was bitch-slapped numerous times....recall that he had even invaded Iraq, yet Putin felt just fine invading Georgia. So what does weak mean to you? Would you go to war? would you send missiles? Do you have any clue about the Russian military, or the interwoven economics with China and Europe? Can you think past the current brain nugget that tumbled out... No, you have the typical unreasoned knee jerk reaction people know to expect. Just look at your company, the Obammy types, the silly he's a liar types, Putin as hero types ....

      March 6, 2014 at 7:20 pm | Reply
  4. Matt

    If the USA had not intervened the Russians would have taken all of Ukraine. He wanted Yanuk to crackdown which was causing the unrest so Russian could send troops in. Yanuk fled and now the plan they intend to has deployed in phase so far a smaller version of the larger plan. So how much weaker would one look then, if Yanuk did not flee.. The facts are this is a EU problem, as I said they can run their own foreign policy but when it goes wrong it becomes a US problem, now it is all about us and our weakness and decline. I have no doubt he would be back in the GDR if the EU was left alone. I told the Merk in 2008 I will leave you to them, your all Russian, blood, DNA anyway they raped over half the country. The US invested a lot in the former states and they are allies of the US. But the westerner Europeans don't make it easy. The harder they make the more likely 2008 will come.

    March 5, 2014 at 1:22 am | Reply
    • Timepass

      Russia and Ukraine have been a part of the same country for decades, how does it matter if they were reunited. This is not rhetorical question – I really need to understand how a conquest of Ukraine by Russia would in any way affect some fellows sitting on the other side of the world. Unless, and only unless you have the same objective. Do you? And, in anticipation, please do not give me any BS about sovereign rights and human rights – that is something the US has absolutely Zilch credibility on. Some fellow called Hagel has made some silly childish noises to that effect – if I were an American I would sack him for insulting everyone's collective intelligence.

      March 5, 2014 at 3:09 pm | Reply
  5. DaveW

    Putin had no choice. He had to do what he has done or lose access to the Mediterranean. And he will pay a terrible price for his actions this week; for decades to come. The U.S. only needs to make light moves toward isolating Russia economically in order to damage the Russian economy horribly. Send troops to the Crimean Peninsula? I don't think so! Imagine what we would do if Panama decided that they would no longer allow U.S. ships of cargo to pass thru the Panama canal? What would we do? We'd say, "We built that darn canal and we're darn well going to be using it!"
    Same thing in Crimea for the Russians.

    March 5, 2014 at 12:55 am | Reply
    • kurt

      The difference is the US would likely do what Russia should have done.

      If Panama barred us access to the canal, we'd respond by cutting off foreign aid and imposing trade sanctions. The economic damage would far outweight what panama would gain and they'd give way.

      Russia could easily have increased natural gas prices for the Ukraine (right now they give them a substantial discount). The Ukraine would have backed down and given Russia what they wanted.

      Using troops is just stupid.

      March 5, 2014 at 2:55 pm | Reply
  6. Steve Hines

    Putin knows what he's dealing with in Obama, which is exactly why he's making moves to reassemble the USSR now.

    Obama's legacy will be having brought socialism to America and allowed communism to flourish throughout eastern Europe. What a disaster of a president, but hey, at least we've assuaged our white guilt!!!

    March 4, 2014 at 8:09 pm | Reply
    • kurt

      Russia isn't even remotely communist anymore. Much more like the early days of Nazi control of the German government. Still technically a republic, but taking on fascist tones.

      And let's keep in mind that the first act of this nature by this Russian government was in 2008... when Obama was just a Senator and candidate.

      The US government at that time did LESS then what we are talking about doing now.

      March 5, 2014 at 10:05 am | Reply
      • helen

        I agree with you - Putin did far worse in Georgia when Bush was in power. This lame rhetoric about Obama bringing socialism and communism back to the world is getting old and pathetic.

        March 5, 2014 at 3:19 pm |
  7. Sharon

    I just reviewed many of the bloggers posts and find it very unsettling most are not really aware of the details or the possible options US may have. I also noted many bloggers appear to post with a partisan leaning to left or right.

    What will happen. Most likely nothing, same as what occurred when Georgia was invaded by Russia in 2008 under Bush. Europe is dependent upon energy supply from Russia, plus huge financial dealings/investments/etc of Russia with Europe, US, and other international countries, may make most countries reluctant to support some sanctions, especially some with financial implications. Also Russia is Ukraine next door neighbor, has military bases in Crimea, and Crimea was part of USSR until 1954. Majority of residents of Crimea speak Russian, and majority voted for the ousted corrupt past leader.

    Sure does appear Putin of Russia has upper hand since Ukraine was part of USSR in past, and Ukraine is Russia's next door neighbor, and etc.. Russia does not want to lose financial/etc. control of Ukraine. US available options do appear limited. And no US President, Democrat or Republican, would be able to do much. Bush didn't in 2008, and don't think Obama will in 2014 either. What remains to be seen is whether Ukraine will fall prey to Putin's antagonistic push, and finally defend their country with military troops, same as Georgia did in 2008??? This saga still has more chapters to unfold. And we will see what happens in days ahead.

    Another twist to saga, Russia's economy is not doing well, 1.5% growth for 2013. US is 2.4%. for 2013.

    Also I do not anticipate that US will send ground troops over. When all comes to an end, then we will have more knowledge and can more appropriately evaluate how President Obama actually handled this particular situation. Until then all we are doing is just speculating.

    March 4, 2014 at 6:34 pm | Reply
    • kurt

      If anything it appears the US might take a harder line now then we did with the Georgia invasion in 2008.

      We're talking about confiscating russian assets and trade sanctions. While it won't hurt russia a ton (we make up 1% of Russias foriegn trade) its still more then was done in 2008. If the EU goes along with us, then it really WILL hurt Russia.

      March 5, 2014 at 10:02 am | Reply
      • Sharon


        You may actually be correct. US may apply tougher pressure today, but still personally feel options are limited, especially re: any financial sanctions. Both Russia and US would most likely impose sanctions, which could have possible detrimental effects for both sides.

        US stock market investors have already revealed high fear factor exists re: Ukraine situation. Was huge drop one day, but markets have recovered since then. Stock market is doing very well today, but am well aware it would not take much to upset the apple cart. US economy is slowly but surely recovering from the recession, and at same time has reduced deficit. Unemployment is now at 6.6%.

        Back in August, 2008 think US was preparing more to the biggest recession in over 50 years to hit in Sept. Guess all we can do is wait and see as all unravels. And hope for best.

        March 5, 2014 at 3:11 pm |
  8. Reggie53

    Obama is a very weak leader so I would say Putin has the upper hand. Not to say that I want Putin to have the upper hand but we need to have a strong president which we do not have at this time. Obama does not know whether he is coming or going and it takes him forever to respond to a crisis. He is way out of his league!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    March 4, 2014 at 3:13 pm | Reply
    • Steve Hines

      Of course he is....he's a COMMUNITY ORGANIZER!

      March 4, 2014 at 8:15 pm | Reply
    • Bella Donia

      If Obama walked on water, you people would be complaining that he couldn't swim. LOL!!! Your post is not worth saying any more than that.

      March 5, 2014 at 9:38 am | Reply
    • helen

      He is not weak - he is thoughtful and tactical. He also is not a war-mongerer like Bush. How about diplomacy for once America!!
      He was not bitch slapped regarding Syria - because he was ready to intervene militarily that caused enough fear in Russia and Syria to have them agree to dismantle their weapons. Isn't that what the ultimate goal was anyway? So therefore Obama succeeded and didn't need to deploy any military.

      March 5, 2014 at 3:22 pm | Reply
      • Brendan

        He's a thoughtful, tactiical idiot. 38% approval

        March 5, 2014 at 8:43 pm |
    • raquell

      Except that this 'crisis' is actually none of his business. As for 'upper hand'(note the quotes) I say its def Putin..

      March 11, 2014 at 9:37 am | Reply
  9. GhostRider7

    You know it occurs to me that it is one thing to be critical of the POTUS on domestic issues and policies. But it is a whole other thing to voice opposition in the media on foreign affairs. He is the duly elected leader of the USA and we he speaks he represents the USA. Seems for any leader to be effective (USA) we should speak with ONE voice be it good, bad or indifferent. When you tear down the Pres on the world stage you tear down the USA.

    March 4, 2014 at 1:07 pm | Reply
    • Smitty

      Wake up, Obumbles has already torn us down. Kerry just gave another speech, Putin fired a missel , Im sure everyone is just feeling warm and fuzzy since our leader wins THE BIGGEST LIAR OF THE YEAR AWARD... Next Obumbles will offer Putin free Oblundercare !!!!! That shpuld show em !!!!!!

      March 4, 2014 at 2:45 pm | Reply
  10. hubbert

    This is NOT about Putin and Obama. it is about Russia and the international community, particularly the EU and NATO.

    the GOP is complaining about perceived weakness of Obama. So what exactly is the GOP alternative? invade?
    Does anyone seriously think that a military escalation (which is what's being suggested by the GOP) is the right move?
    Taking part in a coalition with the UK and Germany and others is exactly the right move, and exactly what Obama and Kerry are doing.

    March 4, 2014 at 11:55 am | Reply
    • Smitty

      Your a very good piece of Obammy fodder!!!

      March 4, 2014 at 1:09 pm | Reply
    • Reggie53

      If it was left to Obama, he would go golfing. No leaders of any country are afraid of either Obama or Kerry so they might as well just not voice their opinions because they mean nothing.

      March 4, 2014 at 3:17 pm | Reply
    • Steve Hines

      A qualified leader, not a community organizer, would have never created the conditions where Russia had no reservations about invading the Ukraine.

      March 4, 2014 at 8:14 pm | Reply
      • kurt

        You mean the same conditions that existed when Russia invaded Georgia in 2008 (while bush was president). Obama created that as well I guess? The conflict that resulted in 20% of Georgia falling under Russian control?

        I guess Obama was at fault for that while he was campaigning for president?

        Russia hasn't acted any better or worse then they always have.

        March 5, 2014 at 9:59 am |
      • helen

        HAHAHAHA!!!!! What a joke. Russia killed many people in Georgia's invasion while Bush was in power!! Good lord come up with a sustainable argument for once.

        March 5, 2014 at 3:23 pm |
    • raquell's not the right move. The right move is not getting involved, period.

      March 11, 2014 at 9:41 am | Reply
  11. unc dig

    Why Putin of course. Obama,s red lines mean nothing to anyone but himself as has been proven over and over and over again.

    March 4, 2014 at 8:00 am | Reply
  12. kurt

    Obama doesn't have much of a hand... but to be honest Putin has a horrible hand.

    Putin has just thrown away billions spent on the Olympics to generate goodwill and all the international standing Russia has built since the end of the Soviet Union for what? A little piece of the Ukraine? He could have had the whole thing just by threatening to raise the Ukraine's Natural Gas prices... and wouldn't have hurt his standing at all while doing so.

    This was a horribly stupid move by Putin. I'm not saying Obama "wins" anything... but Putin could have had all he wanted without Jeopardizing Russia's world standing in the slightest. He basically had four of a kind in his hand and decided to redraw 3 cards and hope for a flush instead. Obama's holding with a pocket pair.. but Putin's idiotic play actually results in a scenario where Russia doesn't end up with total control of the Ukraine... when they had a 100% chance of that going in.

    Putin may still have the better hand... but he's played his hand in a very stupid way.

    March 4, 2014 at 1:56 am | Reply
    • time traveler

      the USA is giving Ukraine 1 billion dollars which will be paid to Putin for gas delivered to the Ukraine. The tax payers of America are paying for Russians military exercise. Putin is much smarter and now richer

      March 4, 2014 at 12:21 pm | Reply
      • Smitty

        BULLSEYE !! Wow, did you hit that head on, good for you for thinking ahead ahead !!!

        March 4, 2014 at 2:31 pm |
      • kurt

        1 billion dollars in this scenario isn't that much.

        The sanctions that could result from this (especially if the EU enacts them) would cost russia hundreds of times as much. Again... it's not that russia won't "win" this, but it's tough to see how they couldn't get more of a win, with less expenditure and less heat from the international community.

        I've yet to hear how this course of action is better then the alternatives that Putin had going into this situation. It seems like he took the dumbest possible path toward a goal of controlling the region.

        His hand started so good that he'll likely still get what he wants... but he could have gotten it while still appearing to be a "nice guy" to the rest of the world. Instead he looks like an invader.

        Going further on the money aspect... look at the olympics. Russia spent 51 billion dollars on the olympics in Sochi to try to build their standing in the internationale community. Now they've pissed that investment away. All of it.

        Do you really think that even if they got all of the 1 billion dollar aid package the US is sending over, that somehow that is a win for them?

        March 5, 2014 at 9:56 am |
  13. cmml

    Obama has no hand here. He will simply bluff then fold.

    Even if he did have a hand here he wouldn't know how to play it and would probably fold anyway.

    March 3, 2014 at 8:57 pm | Reply
    • John

      You are really right. Obama has no hand here. He has nothing. This is the time when we could use a real leader such as JFK or Reagan. Since Obama has become comfortable beating up on the American people and flexing his muscles with his executive orders, now we get to see a weak little man shake in the face of real world issues. Karma

      March 4, 2014 at 9:17 am | Reply
      • Corey

        JFK is a bad example. He got played pretty good by Soviet Premier Khrushchev... JFK even admitted as much when he walked out of that meeting.... But nonetheless, JFK never performed this poorly on the national stage.

        March 4, 2014 at 12:24 pm |
  14. june fitzgerald

    thank you for supporting free speech for all parties

    March 3, 2014 at 8:21 pm | Reply
  15. june fitzgerald

    your reports confirm that "ousted ukranian president Victor y. asked russia for troops to restore peace in ukraine". you also just confirmed that the current leader (ardeniy y. was not elected. Please also note that Arseniy y was one of 18 candidates for presidency in 2010 and that he got the lowest popular vote, only 7%. new elections are due 12/2014 and it is unlikely that he will be elected. meanwhile his EU negotiations ended in the bloody coup that ousted the democratically elected president! protestors had guns, fireboms and reportedly killed at teast 10 policemen and police used rubber bullets (as recommended by Kent state u findings). russia has just paid $2 billion to "bail out" ukraine. meanwhile arseniy y has a "open ukraine" foundation that mentions "privitising ukrainian cities"! The ukraine is not for sale! He (nor the US) can buy control of the country. the citizens of ukraine have to vote for their leader (as they did for viktor y.) your reports indicated that maybe 60% of ukranians are russian heritage. so if 60% of ukranians vote for a pro russian leader, it's their right and "the USA is on the wrong side of history".

    March 3, 2014 at 8:10 pm | Reply
  16. Brendan

    Danielle, thank you for not allowing Sally off the hook for not knowing her facts and not allowing her to put words in your mouth. Sally, you had zero substance to offer, and it was clear you didnt know what you were talking about. You should take this crisis more seriously and not laugh and smile throughout the debate. Word of advice, if you're not going to look someone in their eyes when you shake their hand at the end of a debate, then dont bother shaking hands at all.

    March 3, 2014 at 7:16 pm | Reply
  17. James Kronewitter

    I believe it is reasonable for the USA to send a battalion of US Army personnel, tanks and artillery to Ukraine with a wing of US fighter jets. Our US Secretary of State will visit Kiev tomorrow – he needs our protection, and the Ukrainian people are in need of aid. These troops will stop Russia at the border of Crimea and allow time for diplomacy.

    March 3, 2014 at 7:13 pm | Reply
  18. John K.

    Why did you not invite a Ron Paul Republican or a left wing Peace representative such as

    March 3, 2014 at 7:04 pm | Reply
  19. James Kronewitter

    Why the Hell have we had tanks, misssile batteries and military bases in Europe for the last 50years, have they not been there for this very reason...that Russia will one day attack Europe again? Then tell Germany to get the fuck in their tanks or get the fuck out of our way.

    March 3, 2014 at 7:02 pm | Reply
  20. Crosswinds


    March 3, 2014 at 7:01 pm | Reply
  21. kathy kelly

    We are America and we are the world power and peace makers, Russia has no right to invade. Obama needs to take his stand and help the Ukrainian people that is what we do, help those in need. Looks like we have another hilter on our hands.

    March 3, 2014 at 7:00 pm | Reply
  22. Jorge Ortiz


    March 3, 2014 at 6:56 pm | Reply
  23. Walter Jasniewski

    Putin was in Russian intelligence before getting into politics.

    Obama was a Community Organizer before getting into politics.

    While Obama has been using the media to broadcast anything and everything positive Obama does, Putin has been taking notes on Obama, he knows what he's dealing with.

    March 3, 2014 at 6:54 pm | Reply
  24. Tim Pritchett

    Newt, you say Obama looks weak to the world, especially Russia. Well, you'd look week also if you had everyone in the republican party slamming you on a daily basis saying you're weak! You are a pathetic American, a sad excuse for a former politician, and you definately do not deserve to sit on CrossFire on CNN, you need to go to FOX, where they ALL say EVERYDAY, that Obama is weak! Why don't you do what you do best...Go commit adultery!

    March 3, 2014 at 6:41 pm | Reply
    • Smitty

      Good lil Obammy brown noser blame someone else cause Obumbles is so weak !!! LOL

      March 3, 2014 at 9:38 pm | Reply
    • unc dig

      So Obama being weak is the republicans fault? I thought it was bush's fault, or the arab spring, or protesters gone wild, or just a few IRS agents gone wild, or the NSA, or maybe nobody told him?

      March 4, 2014 at 8:05 am | Reply
    • Brendan

      38% approval rating. Its not just Newt that thinks that...

      March 5, 2014 at 8:36 pm | Reply
  25. Smitty

    Are we sure this just isn't another you-tube video ???? RMOFLOL!!!

    March 3, 2014 at 5:59 pm | Reply
  26. Smitty

    After Syria, Obumbles has lost all credibility with the world. On a plus side he did win BIGGEST LIAR OF THE YEAR.
    Hows that closing gitmo going Obammy ???>?

    March 3, 2014 at 5:56 pm | Reply

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