Former Vice President Dick Cheney on today's Face the Nation...


March 9, 2014


"I don't know whether he believes they should be tested....  He has seen the so-called "reset policy" that's led to giving up on the ballistic missile defense, for example.  We have created an image around the world not just for the Russians, of weakness, of indecisiveness."  

"I think he is.  But I also think he hasn't got any credibility with our allies."

"And my answer is reinstate the ballistic missile defense program and policy.  He cares a lot about that.  Conduct joint military exercises with our NATO friends close to the Russian border.  Offer up equipment and training to the Ukrainian military."

"But I think Putin has got domestic problems at home."


CHARLIE ROSE: There's also news overnight in Ukraine.  Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk announced today he'll visit the Some this week.  This, as more Russian troops move into Crimea.  Russian government is also threatening to suspend international inspections of the nuclear weapon after the U.S. imposed sanctions late last week.  Former Vice President Dick Cheney joins us now.  Good morning.
RICHARD CHENEY: Good more, Charlie.
CHARLIE ROSE: Tell me what our options are today.
RICHARD CHENEY: Well, I think I worry when we begin to address a crisis by the first thing we need is take options off the table.  I don't think the administration should do that.
CHARLIE ROSE: Have they done that?
RICHARD CHENEY: (UNINTEL PHRASE) no military.  It seems to operate that way most of the time.  And there are military options that don't involve putting troops on the ground in Crimea.  We could go back and reinstate the ballistic missile defense program that was taken out.  It was originally gonna go in Poland, Czech Republic, Obama took it out to appease Putin who could do training exercises in Poland, joint exercises.  We can offer military assistance in terms of equipment, training, and so forth, to the Ukrainians themselves.
CHARLIE ROSE: There are activation of military forces, are there not?  There's some activation?
CHARLIE ROSE: In terms of having forces come and make their appearance there.
RICHARD CHENEY: On our part?
RICHARD CHENEY: I'm not aware of any.
RICHARD CHENEY: NATO, I'm sure NATO will think about it.
RICHARD CHENEY: It's very important to NATO.  A lot of the NATO members were part of the old Soviet empire, Warsaw Pact, the Baltic states, (UNINTEL PHRASE) and so forth, and they are very worried when they see Putin absolutely (UNINTEL) Russia over solemn commitments he made and that the government of Russia made, like the Budapest Memorandum.  And Russia, the U.S., and Britain guaranteed the borders of Ukraine in return for Ukraine giving up their nuclear weapons.  Very important.  And Putin has just blown that off.  Just going right through it.  And people begin to wonder if his word is ever good for anything.
CHARLIE ROSE: So that's the question.  Do you believe that President Putin believes that President Obama is weak and will pass through his deadline and therefore he should be tested?
RICHARD CHENEY: No, I don't know whether he believes they should be tested.  I think there's no question for what (UNINTEL) this week.  He has seen the so-called "reset policy" that's led to giving up on the ballistic missile defense, for example.  We have created an image around the world not just for the Russians, of weakness, of indecisiveness.  The Syrian situation is a classic.  All ready to do something, a lot of the allies sign on at the last minute, Obama backed off.
CHARLIE ROSE: But don't you think that the president is (UNINTEL) and take all the diplomatic steps that he can take now?
RICHARD CHENEY: I think he is.  But I also think he hasn't got any credibility with our allies.  I've just gotten to speak to a couple members of the European parliament within the last couple of days.  They've indicated that the request for the Europeans to cooperate on sanctions is more difficult than it would've been because of what happened with respect to Syria.
But in fact, they got ready to go.  And at the last minute, the U.S., President Obama backed off.  So he's got a much higher mountain to climb in order to try to mobilize European governments to come on board for something other than the military.
CHARLIE ROSE: Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates for both President Obama and President Bush said today, "I do not believe that Crimea will slip out of Russian hands," suggesting that the Russian troops will not leave and that there'll be a different situation on the ground in Crimea.
RICHARD CHENEY: That's very possible.  But I don't--
CHARLIE ROSE: Can we stand that, in your judgment?
RICHARD CHENEY: In my judgment, we have to recognize the fact that this is an egregious violation, if you will, of treaty commitments, of solemn obligation on the part of the Russian government to recognize the boundaries of the new independent states of the old Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact.  And it was one of the most significant developments in the 20th century, and Putin is simply ignoring all of his commitments.  I don't think he should be able to do that without paying.
CHARLIE ROSE: But as you know in Georgia, the people will make the case that Russian troops remain and that it is a (UNINTEL) situation because we are not able to respond more.
RICHARD CHENEY: Right.  That is true.
CHARLIE ROSE: So what is the lesson of that?
RICHARD CHENEY: Well, the lesson--
CHARLIE ROSE: --your own administration.
RICHARD CHENEY: The lesson of that I think is it came at a time sort of at the end of the Bush administration, but then into the Obama administration.  But it was of deep concern to our friends in Western Europe.  We did take some steps in terms of providing assistance to Georgia.  We have ships in the region, and so forth.  There were steps taken. But they weren't effective in terms of driving Putin out.  And part of the problem in that case, it was a question about who actually provoked whom with respect to Georgian--
CHARLIE ROSE: Do you believe sanctions will be enough?
RICHARD CHENEY: I don't know.  I don't have any way to evaluate--
CHARLIE ROSE: And if they are not?  How much of a confrontation does the United States want to engage in on the ground?
RICHARD CHENEY: The real question is how much do you want to allow Putin to ignore those agreements, very, very important agreements that ended 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.  That was one of the most significant events of the 20th century.  And now he's starting to chip away at that.  He's trying to reverse the developments, very clearly with respect to Crimea, and I do not believe that we should allow him to do that.
CHARLIE ROSE: But the question then is, if you do not believe we should allow him, what are we prepared to do to stop him?
RICHARD CHENEY: Well, that's the key question.
CHARLIE ROSE: And what's your answer then?
RICHARD CHENEY: And my answer is reinstate the ballistic missile defense program and policy.  He cares a lot about that.  Conduct joint military exercises with our NATO friends close to the Russian border.  Offer up equipment and training to the Ukrainian military.  Take steps for the (UNINTEL PHRASE) convey the nation, especially to our friends in Europe that we keep our commitments.  So far that's a doubt.
And I think it's as much a matter of sending a strong signal that the U.S. will keep its commitments to our friends and allies.  That's been in doubt for some time now because of the policies of the Obama administration.  And this becomes a crucial moment--
CHARLIE ROSE: So you think those Baltic nations should be nervous as to whether NATO and you have members of the NATO, (UNINTEL) who will come to their defense?
RICHARD CHENEY: Yeah.  You have a treaty obligation under article five--
RICHARD CHENEY: --a treaty, (UNINTEL) attack against (UNINTEL).
RICHARD CHENEY: Against all.  And we absolutely I think will find if you go to Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia today, that our friends there recognizing that Russian minority populations inside, they're under the control of the old Soviet Union for decades, and now they're free and independent states.  But they depend upon the United States for leadership and guarantee--
CHARLIE ROSE: So what happens if the Crimeans say, "We want to join Russia"?
RICHARD CHENEY: I don't know.  We'll have to see what happens to that.  But obviously there's an argument about whether or not they can do that given among other things, (UNINTEL PHRASE) memoranda in 1994.  And of course the Russians say that they will be (UNINTEL PHRASE) in Kiev.
RICHARD CHENEY: So there's a debate obviously underway.  And I don't know how it's going to unfold.  But I think Putin has got domestic problems at home.  I don't think if this is a situation where there aren't vulnerabilities from the standpoint of--
CHARLIE ROSE: But there's also the energy weapon too.  Can we, in a sense, provide the money and the energy to the people in Ukraine, so that therefore they'll feel less pressure from Russia?
RICHARD CHENEY: The energy's also a weakness for Russia.  They depend on energy, on petroleum, for 50% of the G.D.P.  When the price of oil drops a few dollars, they go into recession.  That accounts for most of the budget in Russian government.  So for him to begin talking about cutting off sales, that's a two-edged sword.  It does not necessarily mean that it's going to create a bigger problem for the customer than it does for the supplier.
CHARLIE ROSE: We could be looking at a new cold war?
RICHARD CHENEY: Well, I don't know that they'll go that far.  But I think there should be no doubt in anybody's mind, if the United States is going to do everything we can to mobilize NATO, our Western European friends and allies to make certain that Putin gets the message that this kind of behavior is unacceptable and we won't tolerate it and he can't do it without paying the price.
CHARLIE ROSE: Thank you, Mr. Vice President.


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