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On Ukraine, Ted Cruz isn't as Reaganesque as he seems to think

In my Sunday column, I described the division among leading Republicans over what policy to prescribe on Russia and Ukraine, a three-way split among hawks, realists and libertarians.

Then there’s Ted Cruz, the firebrand tea-party senator from Texas. Where does he fit in?

Cruz has carved out his own idiosyncratic corner of Ukraine policy, much of which seems intended to bolster his argument that he’s the GOP's only true heir of Ronald Reagan.

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 "On one side you have the views of John McCain; the other end of the spectrum, you have the views of Rand Paul,” he said earlier this month. “My views are very much the views of Ronald Reagan, which I would suggest is a third point on the triangle." (Not surprisingly, neither McCain nor Paul was pleased.)

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On Ukraine, what does Reaganism mean for Cruz? That’s a bit of a muddle.
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He says he’d impose tougher sanctions on Russia than President Obama has, and authorize U.S. exports of oil and gas to Europe – recommendations well within the GOP consensus.

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He says he'd send more missile defense systems to Poland and other Eastern European countries, a Reaganesque idea that McCain and others also support.

But Cruz also says he’d begin the process of withdrawing from the 2011 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty with Russia — a proposal Reagan, who yearned for nuclear disarmament, might not endorse. The first START was launched by Reagan and completed by his successor, George H.W. Bush; the current agreement is a successor to that pact.

Cruz also says he supports the U.S. loan guarantees to Ukraine that Obama has proposed.

But one of the most pressing questions is whether the United States should send military aid to Kiev — and on that, Cruz doesn't have a position.

"He'd have to see a specific plan — what is proposed and what it would achieve — before taking a stance," a Cruz spokesman told me last week.

That sounds like a waffle — and not very Reaganesque at all.

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