Bush says Russian aggression requires stronger US action

Will Jeb Bush's Eurotrip Earn Him Foreign Policy Cred?

BERLIN (AP) — Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush is warning Russia that if he becomes president, the U.S. will step up its actions to counter Vladimir Putin's aggression, especially in Ukraine and eastern Europe.

In excerpts released before Bush's speech Tuesday to a prominent European economic conference, Bush asks: "Who can doubt that Russia will do what it pleases if its aggression goes unanswered?"

"Our alliance, our solidarity and our actions are essential if we want to preserve the fundamental principles of our international order, an order that free nations have sacrificed so much to build," Bush says, according to remarks provided by his aides.

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Bush says Russian aggression requires stronger US action
President George Bush chats with brother Gov. Jeb Bush as they acknowledge cheering supporters at a fundraiser for the Republican Party of Florida at the Contemporary Resort at Disney World in Orlando, Florida, Friday, February 17, 2006. (Photo by Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel/MCT via Getty Images)
MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, UNITED STATES: US President George W. Bush (R) reaches out to shake hands with his brother Florida Governor Jeb Bush (L) shortly after Air Force One arrived at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, 09 May 2006. AFP Photo/Paul J. Richards (Photo credit should read PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)
Washington, UNITED STATES: US President George W. Bush (L) looks on as his brother Florida Governor Jeb Bush speaks 19 April, 2006. Governor Bush was among several governors who met with the president after an Easter trip to Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait. AFP PHOTO/Jim WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
President George Bush (left) and brother Gov. Jeb Bush acknowledge cheering supporters at a fundraiser for the Republican Party of Florida at the Contemporary Resort at Disney World in Orlando, Florida, Friday, February 17, 2006. (Photo by Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel/MCT via Getty Images)
ST. PETERSBURG, FL - OCTOBER 19: U.S. President George W. Bush (L) and his brother Florida Governor Jeb Bush (R) smile while greeting supporters during a campaign rally at Progress Energy Park October 19, 2004 in St. Petersburg, Florida. Recent polls indicate Bush is maintaining a slight lead over his Democratic challenger U.S. Sen. John Kerry (D-MA). (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 22: Jeb Bush is seen at Salt Lake City Airport on January 22, 2015 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by JOCE/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)

Bush provided no detail for how he would ensure that "Ukraine, a sovereign European nation, must be permitted to choose its own path."

More broadly, Bush called for the deepening of economic and security ties with eastern European nations, vulnerable to potential Russian meddling. Bush is on a three-country visit this week, which also includes former Eastern bloc countries Poland and Estonia.

"Russia must respect the sovereignty of all of its neighbors," Bush said.

It's hardly a radical message for the former Florida governor, who is making his first foreign speech as a presidential contender.

Bush, like most Republican White House prospects, supports economic sanctions on Russia and sending military equipment and economic aid to Ukraine, where separatists, believed backed by Putin, are fighting pro-independence forces.

The U.S. and Germany — as well as Poland and Estonia — are NATO allies that work closely together on a host of diplomatic issues, among them Ukraine and Iran's nuclear program. Germany is also the U.S.'s strongest European trading partner, and Bush has praised Estonia and Poland as fast emerging free-market success stories.

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

And while it's popular for Republican presidential prospects to condemn Putin, it's also a way to criticize the Obama administration's foreign policy, carried out during his first term by then Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, now a Democratic presidential candidate.

Bush has said Obama has ceded to Germany too much of the diplomatic burden in Europe, chiefly for rallying approval for sanctions against Russia for its backing of pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine. European leaders, particularly French President Francois Hollande and Merkel, have taken the lead on Russian-Ukraine peace agreements.

Bush's trip comes in the lead-up to his plan to announce his presidential candidacy Monday in Miami. Some of his rivals have already made visits abroad.

Last week, Bush aides confirmed that he plans to seek the 2016 Republican nomination, as has been widely expected since he formed a political action committee early in the year and began raising tens of millions of dollars to fuel it.

Bush is expected to meet Merkel informally Tuesday evening at the conference where they are both speaking, though the two are not meeting privately. They are addressing the economic council of the Christian Democratic Union, the political party Merkel leads.

Bush also was scheduled to meet Germany's finance minister, Poland's president and president-elect, and Estonia's president.

Although Jeb Bush has traveled extensively overseas while and since serving two terms as Florida governor, the trip is aimed primarily at strengthening his credentials overseas. Governors who run for president often lack foreign policy experience or are seen that way.


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