Opinion: Putin goes back to the U.S.S.R.

While Democrats and Republicans in Congress wrestle over how best to respond to Russia’s attack on Ukraine, the unsettling possibility is that Vladimir Putin is ready not only to take over Ukraine, but directly assault the post-Cold War stability which has preserved peace in Europe.

“Russia’s goal is to reestablish the former USSR, and Putin will try to destroy anyone who dares stand in his way,” said U.S. Rep. Barry Loudermilk, R-Cassville.

“Putin’s obsession with restoring the old Soviet Union has led to unprovoked and unnecessary aggressive military action,” said U.S. Rep. Austin Scott, R-Tifton.

Georgia Republicans this week joined in a chorus of GOP complaints that President Joe Biden took too long to levy new economic penalties against Moscow.

“Biden should have issued sanctions long ago,” said Scott, who was joined by many GOP lawmakers in hitting Biden.

“More must be done by the Biden Administration,” said U.S. Rep. Andrew Clyde, R-Athens. “China, Iran, and North Korea are watching.”

“Since day 1, President Biden has shown weak leadership on the world stage,” added U.S. Rep. Rick Allen, R-Evans.

“We need President Trump back,” said U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Rome.

But Trump’s first comments about Russia and Ukraine immediately raised red flags — instead of condemning Putin, Trump suggested the effort to break off a chunk of Ukraine was ‘genius.’ Trump called Putin ‘very savvy.’

When Trump was in the White House, his critics accused him of trying to undermine NATO, with talk that he wanted the U.S. out of the alliance — a move that would be a gift to Putin.

Ronald Reagan might not recognize some of the voices coming from the Grand Old Party about Russia, with some scoffing at the importance of Ukraine, and others blaming the U.S. and NATO for creating the crisis — echoing arguments from Moscow.

The Ukraine situation is also a reminder of how wrong Barack Obama was in 2012, when he ridiculed Mitt Romney’s assertion that Russia was America’s ‘number one geopolitical foe.’

“The 1980′s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back,” Obama said dismissively at a presidential debate with Romney.

“The ‘80s called’ and we didn’t answer,” Romney said this week as the Russian invasion began.

In recent days, the Pentagon has shifted extra U.S. soldiers, fighter jets, and attack helicopters into Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, and the Baltics — as the former Soviet satellites are now all NATO allies.

Since the fall of the Soviet Union, the borders of Europe have remained remarkably stable — except for Ukraine and Russia. In 2014, Putin took the Crimea from Ukraine, starting an eight-year border dispute that led to this standoff.

“Should Russia invade Ukraine, there will be only losers,” former Georgia U.S. Senator Sam Nunn warned earlier this month.

How far does Putin go? That’s the unsettling question not only for Europe, but also for the United States.

Jamie Dupree has covered national politics and the Congress from Washington, D.C. since the Reagan administration. His column appears weekly in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. For more, check out his Capitol Hill newsletter at http://jamiedupree.substack.com