Three Republicans said to be considering presidential runs tried to distinguish themselves on Russia’s invasion of the Crimean Penin­sula, previewing their approaches to foreign policy in TV appearances Sunday.

Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, who won a presidential straw poll at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference on Saturday, promoted a hands-off approach, saying he would warn President Vladimir Putin of Russia that his strategy of supporting the secession of Crimea from Ukraine would prove a “disaster” because of Russia’s need for uninterrupted oil and gas from Ukraine.

“If they continue to occupy Crimea, if they annex Crimea, Ukraine almost certainly will come completely within the Western orbit,” Paul said on “Fox News Sunday.”

Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, who finished second in the conservative straw poll, pushed for tougher sanctions against Russia in an appearance on ABC’s “This Week,” saying he disagreed with Paul’s approach.

“I think U.S. leadership is critical in the world, and I agree with him that we should be very reluctant to deploy military force abroad, but I think there is a vital role, just as Ronald Reagan did,” he said.

Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, the GOP’s 2012 vice presidential nominee, suggested taking steps to reduce Russia’s control of energy resources, as well as imposing sanctions.

“I think you target their ability to travel,” he said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “You target their international reserves, you target their holdings overseas that are illicitly gained through this kleptocracy of the Russian economy.”

new york times