Republican presidential hopeful Jeb Bush has vowed to take a tougher stance to tamp down Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “aggression” should he become president of the United States.
“He’s a bully,” Bush said in his first foreign speech of the 2016 campaign in a trip to Europe on Wednesday.
Speaking to reporters outside his hotel before a second day of meetings with German officials in Berlin, he called Putin a ruthless pragmatist who “will push until someone pushes back.”
“To deal with Putin, you need to deal from strength,” said the brother of former US president George W. Bush.
“You enable bad behavior when you’re nuanced with a guy like that…I’m not talking about being bellicose but just saying, ‘Here are the consequences of your actions’,” Bush said.
He said the Russian president must be convinced that the United States and its allies will retaliate if the Russian military threatens any member of NATO.
Amongst tough foreign policy steps he vowed, Bush mentioned stepped-up military exercises in Poland and the Baltic states and the possibility of maintaining a more permanent American military presence in those countries.