WASHINGTON -- The House Intelligence Committee's top Democrat warns a bipolar world order has emerged, with Russia leading a new authoritarian wave.
Russian President Vladimir Putin's brash tactics continue to receive scorn from Washington to European capitals, from the ongoing Russian-backed intrusion into Ukraine and a mysterious murder of an opposition leader in Moscow.
"Now, we're not seeing the same bipolar world we had between capitalism and communism," Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said Monday. "But we are seeing a new bipolar world, I think, where you have democracy versus authoritarianism, and Russia now is really carrying the mantle for authoritarian regimes.
"And you're seeing many of Russia's neighbors follow in its footsteps," Schiff said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program, "and that's a grave concern."
He expressed doubt that Putin will lead a credible investigation into the murder of Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, killed last week just steps from the Kremlin.
Schiff also repeated his call for the Obama administration to give defensive weapons to Ukraine while also slapping tougher sanctions on Russia.
"The administration has given Putin lots of exit ramps," Schiff said. "The reality is he doesn't want to take them and hasn't taken them.
"And while Ukraine will never win a war against Russia, we can impose additional costs, so I think providing those weapons, I think working with Europe to stiffen sanctions even further and exploring ways we may have to go it alone in terms of increased sanctions are going to be necessary," he said. "They won't work in the short term, as we've seen, but over the midterm, I think as ... Russians continue to feel the downward drag on their economy, they may begin to question whether this adventurism of Putin is such a good idea."