For another week, the Sunday political talk shows focused on the missing Malaysian plane and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s aggressive actions in Ukraine.
If you missed any of the Sunday political chatter, we've got you covered:
Obama’s defense: As Putin’s advances against Ukraine continue, with the storming Saturday of the Belbek air base, one of the last Ukrainian-held military installations in Crimea, President Barack Obama’s deputy national security adviser Tony Blinken defended the President’s response.
“This is exactly already a real cost for Putin and Russia and the economy,” Blinken said, referring to economic sanctions placed on top Russian government officials after Putin annexed the Crimean Peninsula last week.
“What we're seeing every single day (is) Russia getting more and more isolated as the economy takes a bigger and bigger hit,” Blinken said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “This is having an impact on Russia, and this has to get Putin to think twice.”
Putin’s “growing” offense: But Andrii Deshchytsia, Ukraine’s acting foreign affairs minister, had a different perspective, saying that the chances of his country going to war with Russia are “growing.”
“We don't know what Putin has in his mind and what would be his decision. That's why this situation is becoming even more explosive than it used to be a week ago,” Deshchytsia said on ABC’s “This Week.”
He added that Ukraine is “ready to respond” to Russian military aggression, despite the fact that the Ukrainian government has been telling U.S. officials that its military has been gutted over the past few years.
Rep. Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that “U.S. intelligence officials believe that Putin is not done in Ukraine.”
In defense of small arms: When it returns to Washington on Monday, the Senate is expected to take up a stalled aid package for Ukraine that includes $1 billion in U.S. loan guarantees, $50 million to enhance democracy-building and $100 million for improved security cooperation.
But senators and members of Congress from both parties appearing on the Sunday talk shows said more must be done.
“Unilateral sanctions are good but not sufficient,” Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
The European Union has yet to agree to implement economic sanctions because member nations’ economies, some of which rely on Russian oil and natural gas, would suffer. Obama is traveling to Europe this week and is expected to make Russia a central component of talks.
The elected officials appearing on the Sunday shows were also in favor of the controversial idea of providing Ukraine with military aid, including small arms.
“I think we can do more,” Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-New Hampshire, said on “Face the Nation” from Kiev, the Ukrainian capital.
On CBS: There are things we can do that don't involve our boots on the ground to help them also stand up and help their military—
Kelly Ayotte (@KellyAyotte) March 23, 2014
On CBS: We had the USS Truxtun on exercises in the Black Sea. I think that needs to be returned to the Black Sea—
Kelly Ayotte (@KellyAyotte) March 23, 2014
“We're not talking about even complicated weapons systems; we're talking about small arms so they can protect themselves, maybe medical supplies, radio equipment - things that they can use to protect themselves; defensive-posture weapons systems,” Rogers said on “Meet the Press.”
“You can do noncombatant military aid in a way that allows them to defend themselves, and that's all they want. No direct military action, they don't want U.S. boots on the ground. Neither do I,” Rogers added.
Durbin was the most cautious about the idea, but said on “Face the Nation” that small arms for Ukraine should be kept on the table.
“It may come to small arms,” he said. “I’m not ruling that out.”
Calls for small arms have been coming for a couple of weeks, but the Obama administration has yet to make up its mind.
“When it comes to military assistance, we're looking at it,” Blinken said on “State of the Union.”
“The facts are these: Even if assistance goes to Ukraine, that's unlikely to prevent an invasion.”
Obama’s critics: Even though Republicans have indicated their support for sanctions that Obama has implemented, he continues to be criticized by Republicans for his handling of Putin.
“This has been an administration that has been outthought and outmaneuvered by Putin,” Rep. Tom Cole said on ABC’s “This Week.”
And defeated 2012 presidential candidate Mitt Romney is living an “I told you so” moment.
After being mocked by Obama during the 2012 election for calling Russia the United States’ biggest “geopolitical foe,” Romney said Sunday the President’s “naivete” has resulted in “a number of foreign policy challenges.”
“Unfortunately, not having anticipated Russia's intentions, the President wasn't able to shape the kinds of events that may have been able to prevent the kinds of circumstances that you're seeing in the Ukraine,” he said on “Face the Nation.”
Romney said Obama’s actions in Syria are “one of the things that led to the kind of aggressiveness you’re seeing from Russia today.”
The missing plane: As the international investigation of the missing Malaysian airplane with 239 people on board continues in the Indian Ocean, Rep. Patrick Meehan, R-Pennsylvania, said the Malaysian government, which is leading the investigation, is frustrating to work with.
“Well, frankly, I wish (cooperation) was better,” Meehan said of the U.S. involvement of the search for the Boeing 777 that went missing on March 8 during a flight from Malaysia bound for China. “The reports that I’m getting are frustration.”
“I think across the board people are looking for more in the way of openness from the Malaysian government, in terms of sharing the information they have in a timely manner,” Meehan, a member of the House Homeland Security Committee, said on “State of the Union.”
The White House disclosed last week that the FBI would join in Malaysia's investigation by helping to retrieve deleted data on a computer flight simulator belonging to the plane’s pilot. The U.S. military is already working with Malaysian authorities, as are the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration.
Blinken cautioned not to "get ahead of the facts," adding that “there’s no prevailing theory” about how the aircraft vanished.
Kicker: Former President Jimmy Carter said privacy rights have been “abused” by the intelligence community.
“As a matter of fact, you know, I have felt that my own communications were probably monitored, and when I want to communicate with a foreign leader privately, I type or write the letter myself, put it in the post office and mail it,” he said on “Meet the Press.”
CNN's Dana Davidson contributed to this report.