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Bolton says U.S. needs response to 'intimidating' Russian actions

NBC News 3/16/2023 Rupa Palla

Former Trump national security adviser John Bolton told Meet the Press Now on Thursday that Russia has gotten away with intimidating the U.S. after a Russian fighter jet harassed and dumped fuel on a U.S. surveillance drone — and that a response is warranted. 

“I think the Russians have had a successful run of intimidating the United States and NATO during the course of this war,” Bolton said. “And a brush-back against our drone might have been one more effort to intimidate.”

Bolton said it would be a “mistake” to have a “relaxed response” to the incident, suggesting something more. 

“I’d throw out 30 to 40 Russian diplomats,” Bolton said. “I would make it clear that’s unacceptable and keep the pressure on.”

Biden should oust '30 or 40 Russian diplomats’ in response to downed U.S. drone, Bolton says

Bolton, who is considering a 2024 presidential run, also said he was "very disappointed" in comments made by another potential candidate, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who called the war in Ukraine a "territorial dispute" that was not in the "vital national interest" of the U.S.

Bolton said he didn't understand the "political logic" in that stance. "Whatever the political strategy was, I think that was wrong, and in terms of geopolitics, I think it was badly wrong,” Bolton said. 

Bolton also said he hasn't made a decision about a '24 run, adding, “it’s a complex process" that he won't make "frivolously.”

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