(CBS NEWS) Before departing the Nuclear Security Summit in the Netherlands Tuesday, President Obama defended his handling of the crisis in Ukraine against criticism that he has misread Russian President Vladimir Putin’s intentions or Russia’s standing in the world.
Though the two-day gathering in the Hague was a forum for dozens of nations to discuss how to improve worldwide nuclear security, it also provided a convenient gathering place for the world’s most powerful nations to discuss their response to the Russian annexation of the Crimean peninsula, which is widely viewed as illegitimate by the West. On Monday, the Group of Seven (G-7) nations moved toexclude Russia from international meetings and abandoned plans for a summit in Sochi this June.
Yet Mr. Obama, who has imposed sanctions on Ukrainian and Russian individuals and threatened to target entire sectors of the Russian economy, has faced charges that he has mishandled the situation. Among the chief critics has been 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney — whom Mr. Obama mocked for labeling Russia the number one geopolitical threatto the U.S. during a presidential debate – who said on CBS News’ “Face the Nation” last Sunday that the president’s “naiveté” emboldened Putin.