Republican vice presidential nominee Mike Pence has described Russian President Vladimir Putin as a bullying leader. He said only way to counter such an attitude is to strengthen the American military.
Pence’s description of Putin as a bullying leader is a notable departure from Trump who has characterised the Russian leader as strong.
“The small and bullying leader of Russia is now dictating terms to the US to the point where all the United States of America, the greatest nation on Earth, just withdraws from talks about a cease-fire while Vladimir Putin puts a missile defence system in Syria while he marshals the forces and begins – look, we have got to begin to lean into this with strong, broad-shouldered American leadership,” Pence said during the vice presidential debate here last night.
“It begins by rebuilding our military. The Russians and the Chinese have been making enormous investments in the military. We have the smallest Navy since 1916. We have the lowest number of troops since the end of the World War II. We’ve got to work with Congress, and Donald Trump will, to rebuild our military and project American strength,” he said.
“We’ve just got to have American strength on the world stage. When Donald Trump becomes president of the US, the Russians and other countries in the world will know they’re dealing with a strong American president,” Pence said.
“Strength. Plain and simple,” he said when asked why would Russia respect US under a Trump Administration.
Pence’s Democratic rival Senator Tim Kaine was quick to remind him about Trump’s praise for Putin.
“Hillary Clinton has the ability to stand up to Russia in a way that this ticket does not. Donald Trump, again and again, has praised Vladimir Putin. And it’s clear that he has business dealings with Russian oligarchs who are very connected to Putin,” he alleged.
“The Trump campaign management team had to be fired a month or so ago because of those shadowy connections with pro-Putin forces. Governor Pence made the odd claim, he said inarguably Vladimir Putin is a better leader than President Obama,” he said.
“If you don’t know the difference between dictatorship and leadership of Mike Pence, then you got to go back to a fifth-grade civics class,” Kaine said.
Pence said that the “weak and feckless foreign” policy of Clinton as secretary of state and US President Barack Obama has awakened an aggression in Russia that first appeared a few years ago with their move in Georgia, now their move into Crimea, now their move into the wider Middle East.
“All the while, all we do is fold our arms and say we’re not having talks anymore. We just need American strength. We need to marshal the resources of our allies in the region, and in the immediate, we need to act and act now to get people out of harm’s way,” he asserted.
The country needs to be tough on Russia, asserted Kaine.