Giuliani said a larger military will help counter Russian and Chinese influence.
OKATIE, South Carolina (CNN) – Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani on Friday advocated a strong military build-up by the United States as a bulwark against the oil-rich Russian President Vladimir Putin and his increasing consolidation of power in the country.
"The good part with Russia is we're not in a Cold War, there is no longer a Soviet empire, their desires are still of a matter of concern but they're not nearly what they used to be and we don't want to get ourselves back into that," said Giuliani, who described Putin as both "good and bad."
"Long term the way we prevent getting ourselves back into that, both with regard to Russia, and even China, is to become militarily even stronger."
The former New York City mayor was responding to a questioner at a town hall meeting who asked: "What are you going to do about Putin?"
Giuliani provided little detail on what being "stronger" would mean, other than saying the "best answer" to the Kremlin would be "a substantial increase in the size of our military."
He justified his claim, explaining that a robust military was the primary reason behind the United States' success in the Cold War. Giuliani said U.S. and European demilitarization after the two World Wars was a mistake that contributed to the growth of Nazism and communism, and he also criticized the post-Cold War peace dividend as "way too big."
Giuliani predicted Putin's "energy extortion" would create more global allies for the United States than it would for Russia.
Still, he said he would maintain a good economic relationship with Russia, but would criticize the Kremlin as needed.
"You keep pointing out the ways that which they are sliding back, because Putin is to some extent sliding back, and you keep making the world know that," he said.
The Putin question is partially moot on the campaign trail, because the Russian president's term expires next year, before Americans cast their ballots.
However, Putin's United Russia Party is expected to maintain its hold on power in this Sunday's Parliamentary elections, and it's been suggested Putin could play a role in the government even after he leaves the presidency.
– CNN South Carolina Producer Peter Hamby