Tuesday 23 January 2018

If I'm president I'll stand up to Putin, says Bush

Jeb Bush
Jeb Bush

Thomas Beaumont in Berlin

Republican presidential contender Jeb Bush is warning Russia that if he becomes president, the US will step up its actions to counter Vladimir Putin's aggression, especially in Ukraine and eastern Europe, and seek to "isolate his corrupt leadership from his people".

In his first foreign speech of the 2016 campaign, Bush criticized what he called dramatic declines in US military spending, suggesting they have undercut credibility as Washington and its allies confront threats in Eastern Europe and elsewhere.

Putin, he said, must know in advance that there will be consequences to his actions, because he is a ruthless pragmatist who "will push until someone pushes back".

Bush addressed a major economic conference in Berlin and took questions from the audience as part of a trip that precedes his planned announcement in Miami on Monday that he is running for the 2016 nomination.

He's also visiting Poland and Estonia.

Without many specifics, Bush called for the deepening of economic and security ties with eastern European nations, vulnerable to Russian meddling. "Russia must respect the sovereignty of all of its neighbours," Bush said.

But as Nato confronts the crisis, he said, it must do so in a way that does not push Russia away for another generation.

President Barack Obama on Monday wrapped up a two-day Group of Seven (G7) meeting at a Bavarian resort where he and German Chancellor Angela Merkel affirmed their ties between the two nations.

Bush was also expected to meet Merkel informally yesterday evening, although not privately.

They were both addressing the economic council of the Christian Democratic Union, the political party Merkel leads.

Irish Independent

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