(Ft. Myers, Florida) — The following are excerpts from my new column for Fox News:
Vladimir Putin didn’t simply secure re-election on Sunday, winning 77 percent of the vote in a rigged election. He has consolidated all power in his hands and emerged as a modern-day Czar. He has also set his country on a collision course with the West, one that could prove catastrophic.
A close look at Putin’s record and rhetoric reveals a man consumed with re-creating a totalitarian state, expanding the country’s borders and rebuilding the glory of Mother Russia….
In the face of such a grave and growing threat, however, President Trump has been essentially radio silent about the most dangerous dictator on the planet. He only mentioned Russia once in his State of the Union address. He rarely if ever Tweets criticism of the Russian leader. Indeed, Mr. Trump is more critical of his own Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, than he is of Putin.
Now that Putin has finished with his re-election charade, we must be prepared for the possibility that he will become even more aggressive — kill more critics, possibly invade another country.
Now is the time, therefore, for President Trump to impose far more — and far tougher — sanctions against Russian officials and oligarchs to punish them for their crimes and prevent new crimes. The moves he made last week were steps in the right direction, but not nearly enough.
Follow the money of Putin’s inner circle. Freeze their assets. Make it difficult or even impossible for them to use or move their money from U.S. and European banks. Prevent these gangsters from having the freedom to travel into the U.S. and NATO countries. In short: hit the Russians where it really hurts, in their wallets.
Mr. Trump must also speak out clearly and more firmly against Putin’s aggressions in interviews and tweets. He should deliver a major speech declaring that Putin poses a clear and present danger to the national security of the United States and our allies….
Meanwhile, the president ought to host a meeting with U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May and other NATO leaders to discuss and implement additional unified strategies…..
Darkness is falling in Russia. A virulently anti-American Czar is sitting in the Kremlin, plotting his next moves. Only decisive American leadership, in concert with our allies, can stop him. And stop him we must.