GOP Rep. Dana Rohrabacher half-defends Russia's annexation of Crimea

The California congressman isn't saying it was right of Russia to seize the former Ukrainian territory, but ...

Published March 25, 2014 8:48PM (EDT)

Speaking during a House Foreign Affairs Committee markup of the Ukraine Support Act, Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher went off-script for a moment and offered a qualified defense of Russia's annexation of Crimea.

"From what I understand, what happened in Crimea, not one person was killed," Rohrabacher said. "Maybe one — maybe there was one," he added.

Continuing, Rohrabacher made clear that he viewed the Crimea crisis as being fundamentally about self-determination.

"What happened in Kosovo, when we were supporting self-determination, which we should have supported, and in Sudan, where we’re talking about thousands of people who lost their lives," Rohrabacher said. "Yet we have to go and condemn the Russians, of course, when no one lost their life in an attempt to make sure the people of Crimea had a right to control their own destiny and their own self-determination."

Rohrabacher went on to complain that many of his colleagues in Congress were stuck in a Cold War mentality.

"There are many people who I worked with over the years who are still stuck in the Cold War," he said. "They cannot sit by and understand that Russia has its national interests, as we have our national interests. What do the people of Crimea want? I don’t think anybody in here will disagree with the fact that it is clear the people of Crimea would rather be part of Russia than be part of a pro-European or European-directed Ukraine."

As Talking Points Memo notes, this isn't the first time Rohrabacher has had positive — or at least sympathetic — things to say about Russia and Vladimir Putin. "He is tough!" Rohrabacher said of Putin in September while appearing on the radio. "He just -- muscles were just unbelievable," he continued. "You know he's a tough guy and he's supposed to be a tough guy, that's what the Russian people want."

By Elias Isquith

Elias Isquith is a former Salon staff writer.

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