As Russian President Vladimir Putin works quickly to consolidate Russia's new hold on the Ukrainian province of Crimea, the West is trying to come up with a united and appropriate response. Most people are trying to find the right middle ground between sending in U.S. Marines to liberate Crimea and ignoring Putin's naked expansionist aggression. --Peter Weber
Kneecap Putin's cronies
The sanctions leveled against Russian officials by the U.S. and Europe are too weak and irrelevant to make any difference, says Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny in The New York Times. To get to Putin, "Western nations could deliver a serious blow to the luxurious lifestyles enjoyed by the Kremlin's cronies who shuttle between Russia and the West." After naming names, Navalny adds:
The invasion of Ukraine has polarized members of Russia's elite, many of whom view it as reckless. Real sanctions, such as blocking access to their plush London apartments, will show that Mr. Putin's folly comes with serious costs. [New York Times]
Meet Putin's fire with a thick blanket
The West needs to isolate Putin completely until he pulls out of Crimea, says Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) in The Washington Post. "The Russian people should see that Putin's actions will bring about a decline of Russia's status as a global power, not a return to supposed Soviet glory." The U.S. and its NATO allies should also impose an arms embargo and open up NATO membership to "all interested partners in Europe." Finally, Rubio adds, Obama should up his reassurances to the former Soviet satellites nervous about Putin's neo-imperialist actions, providing "lethal military support" and deploying "additional military assets and even U.S. personnel to our allies, including Poland and the Baltic states."
Walk softly but carry a big stick
The point of U.S. and European actions should be to keep Putin out of the rest of Ukraine — Crimea is already in Russia's hands, says Fred Kaplan at Slate. But the key to boxing in Putin is understanding that his "actions have been driven less by a belief that the West is weak than his knowledge that Russia is." That doesn't mean the West can ignore Putin — "a bitter autocrat with a head full of grandiose daydreams can be a dangerous creature." What's needed is a ratcheting up of penalties while leaving room for diplomacy, he says:
Draw up plans for containing and countering Russian troops in the event of an incursion into Ukraine — not sending U.S. or NATO troops, but shipping arms, maybe some advisers and black-bag Delta forces — and talk about these plans with the allies, and Ukrainian officials, on open phone lines. Putin surely knows the limits of his army.... Over those same unencrypted phone lines, a senior official should also talk about some moves that would really isolate Russia from the rest of the world.... These are threats of actions to take place if Russia goes deeper into Ukraine — not reprisals for the seizure of Crimea, which would have no effect and probably wouldn't be enforced anyway. [Slate]
Marco Rubio apologized to Donald Trump for making fun of his hand size, the former Republican candidate said in an interview with CNN's Jake Tapper that aired Sunday.
"I actually told Donald — one of the debates, I forget which one — I apologized to him for that," Rubio explained on State of the Union. "I said, 'You know, I'm sorry that I said that. It's not who I am and I shouldn't have done it.' I didn't say it in front of the cameras. I didn't want any political benefit." Rubio recently indirectly indicated he will support Trump this November.
The Trump-Rubio tiff dates to February, when the Florida senator hit back at Trump after the presumed GOP nominee began calling him "Little Rubio." "You know what they say about guys with small hands," he quipped, adding after a pause, "You can't trust 'em!" Trump has been sensitive to suggestions that his hands are small since a 1988 magazine article called him a "short-fingered vulgarian." Bonnie Kristian
Top Donald Trump adviser Paul Manafort is gently walking back his Wednesday assertion that the presumptive Republican nominee wouldn't choose a male person of color or a woman as a running mate because that would be "pandering."
In an interview with ABC's This Week on Sunday, Manafort clarified that candidates from those groups wouldn't be omitted from Trump's list of potential running mates; rather, they just won't earn spots on the list solely because of their race or gender.
"If a female is qualified, that's a totally different story," he said. "And there are many Republican women who are qualified, and several who might be on the list."
Manafort also confirmed that Trump is seeking a vice president with Washington, D.C., experience. Julie Kliegman
Paula Broadwell, the biographer of former CIA Director Gen. David Petraeus, with whom he had an affair, opened up to The New York Times in an interview published Saturday.
"I'm the first to admit I screwed up," Broadwell said. "Really badly, I know that. But how long does a person pay for their mistake?"
Petraeus resigned from his CIA post in 2012 after an FBI investigation revealed he had shared confidential information with Broadwell. The biographer told the Times she has received rape and death threats in the years since the news came to light. Read more about her life in the aftermath of the scandal here. Julie Kliegman
Bernie Sanders is pushing for the ouster of two high-ranking Democrats who support his rival, Hillary Clinton, but his party isn't sympathetic to his cause.
Former Rep. Barney Frank and Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy co-chair the Democratic National Convention rules and platform committees, respectively, placing them in key positions to frustrate Sanders' plan to reshape his party — perhaps by getting rid of the superdelegate system — even if he does not win the nomination.
Sanders alleged the two cannot perform their duties in an unbiased fashion, but the convention's Rules and Bylaws Committee dismissed his complaint Saturday, the Connecticut Post reports. Frank, however, has promised to recuse himself from any committee matters that could affect the party's choice of presidential nominee. Bonnie Kristian
Around 700 migrants from Libya may be dead after the three small boats they were using to cross the Mediterranean capsized on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, the United Nations' refugee agency reported Sunday.
The largest boat was carrying some 670 migrants and did not have an engine. So far, only about 100 of its passengers have been rescued, while 15 bodies have been found.
All three boats were attempting to cross from North Africa to the southern shores of Italy. Libya has remained in chaos since the NATO-assisted overthrow of dictator Moammar Gadhafi in 2011, a power vacuum which permitted the Islamic State terrorist organization to set up shop in the seaside city of Sirte. Bonnie Kristian
A federal judge ordered the release of internal Trump University documents as part of an ongoing lawsuit against the presumptive Republican presidential nominee's company, The Washington Post reported Saturday. Donald Trump's attorneys had argued that the documents, including "playbooks" for salespeople, revealed trade secrets.
Judge Gonzalo Curiel issued the ruling hours after Trump disparaged his Latino heritage and called him a biased "hater" at a San Diego rally. In the order, Curiel said Trump "has placed placed the integrity of these court proceedings at issue."
With 7 in 10 Americans reporting they are "frustrated" with the 2016 presidential election, this year could be the Libertarian Party's big chance — and America's largest third party is holding its national convention in Orlando, Florida, this weekend.
On the agenda: picking a presidential nominee from among three contenders. Though the contest is considered close, greatest name recognition belongs to former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, who was the Libertarian nominee in 2012, when he picked up more than 1 million votes. Johnson recently polled at 10 percent nationally against Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, and he would need 15 percent support to make it into the general election debates.