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Jim Geraghty of the NRO Online wondered what the candidates said about Soviet Prime Minister Putin before last week. When there wasn’t a crisis. After all, these are the guys that want to lead our nation’s foreign policy. Keep in mind this analysis looks at “major speeches” not the normal stump speech.

Interestingly enough, Senator Obama spoke about Putin in a major speech only once, a speech, back in May 2005 (Putin was then the Soviet President).

In the last few years, we have seen some disturbing trends in Russia – the rapid deterioration of democracy and the rule of law; bizarre and troubling statements from President Putin about the fall of the Soviet Union; the abuses in Chechnya; and Russian meddling in the former Soviet Union from the Baltics to Ukraine to Georgia. The Russians must understand that their actions on some of these issues are completely unacceptable.

Obama has never mentioned “Ossetia” in a major speech;

On the Other hand, McCain has named Putin three times:
November 30, 2004

“Nowhere on the continent is this as important today as in Russia, where President Vladimir Putin rules as an autocrat. I have described as a ‘creeping coup’ his efforts to use the Chechen war to roll back the democratic gains Russia won in the 1990s. In recent months I’ve had to start calling this a ‘galloping coup.’ Mr. Putin has moved to eliminate the popular election of Russia’s 89 regional governors, and instead appoint them himself, and to eliminate independent members of parliament, so that Russians would vote not for specific candidates but rather for political parties – the candidates of which would be chosen by party heads, like Mr. Putin. His crackdowns on independent media continue, as does the repression of business executives who oppose the President. Mr. Putin is reasserting the Kremlin’s old-style central control. Russia continues to interfere in so-called ‘frozen conflicts’ in portions of Georgia, Moldova, and Azerbaijan, and maintains troops deployed in two of these countries without their consent. Mr. Putin is pursuing autocracy at home and exporting autocracy abroad. And yet in the face of these outrages, both Europe and the United States have remained too acquiescent, preferring to deal with Mr. Putin as an equal. We have the power to hold Russia to a higher standard, both at home and in Europe’s backyard. A strong, unified message is necessary: reversing democracy in Russia will inevitably cause our relations with Russia to suffer, however much we value its cooperation in other areas.

February 3, 2006:

To its shame, the country with the most influence over Belarus continues to aid and abet this state of affairs. Russia provides cut-rate natural gas to Belarus through state owned Gazprom, at the same time that it uses its supplies as a weapon against democratic Ukraine. In January, Mr. Lukashenko and Mr. Putin met to sign various legal accords and champion their growing integration. Mr. Putin noted their “common wish for energetic progress in the union,” and the Speaker of Russia’s State Duma has said that parallel referendums on a union state constitution could take place later this year. It is quite unfortunate, though perhaps not unanticipated, that these two rulers so dedicated to autocracy would find common cause. Indeed, many of the anti-democratic practices that the West condemned in Belarus over the past several years have begun to surface in Russia.

May 4, 2006:

This is not to say that our interests and our values are always identical. Sometimes our interests and our values point us in different directions, and balancing these can be the most difficult task policymakers face. How hard should we push President Putin, for example, on his rollback of democracy? All of us seek a fully democratic Russia, but we also hope for a Russia that cooperates with us to confront Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

McCain mentioned Ossetia” in a major speech; McCain has twice, Once in January 2006 and once in an April 2006 speech at the German Marshall Fund:

In the past few months alone, Russia has used its natural gas supplies to punish democratic Ukraine in the middle of winter, embargoed the import of wine from Moldova and Georgia, invited Hamas to Moscow, expressed public opposition to sanctioning Iran, and taken several steps to link North and South Ossetia

If you included the “stump” speeches the McCain mentions would be much higher, after all , it foreign policy is his bread and butter, Obama, who has been providing statements from his Hawaii holiday, still doesn’t seem to grasp the Geopolitics behind the Russian invasion of Georgia. It will be very frightening if Barack Obama with NO understanding of foreign policy, is elected to run the ship of state.

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