Sen. Graham: Putin thinks Obama is a 'weak, indecisive leader ... a weak character'

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," March 3, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Lindsey Graham joins us. Good evening, sir.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, R-S.C.: Good evening.

VAN SUSTEREN: I can't tell whether you ripped the president more on foreign policy or the Washington Post Editorial Board when they described it fantasy. But you said that the president has a weak and indecisive policy that invites aggression.

GRAHAM: Right. This is a symptom of greater problem. It really in many ways started with Benghazi when our consulate was overrun and our first Ambassador was killed in 30 something years in the line of duty. Three other brave Americans died and not one person has been held accountable. You are sending absolutely the wrong signal to our foes around the country. And Putin is not going to stop his aggression until he feels the sting. The best way to get his attention is to go after his rich friends, the guards in Russia who are making billions by ripping off the Russian people, stealing their money. Don't let them travel to Europe and throughout the world and live a high life. Don't let do this business as normal. That would really I think sting Putin.

VAN SUSTEREN: How serious is this military intervention in Crimea for the American people?

GRAHAM: Terribly. Because it sends a signal to all of those who oppose Putin. You -- you cannot count on the United States if this ends badly. Putin is doing a very good job of suppressing freedom and democracy inside of Russia. It is a very totalitarian right state now. And all these countries, the Balkans state, Latvia, Estonia, Georgia, the Ukraine who have been trying to chart a different path become democracies, are feeling the wrath of Putin. And if we don't stand up and show some support for countries like the Ukraine, he will continue this. It's never good when a Russian -- basically autocratic dictator is intimidating people in that part of the world at our expense.

VAN SUSTEREN: What do you think President Putin is thinking about President Obama and the United States?

GRAHAM: I think he has basically come to the conclusion after Benghazi, after Syria, after Egypt, after everything, that Obama has been engaged in, he is a weak, indecisive leader. I think Putin believes that he is going to grab the Crimea and march Eastward until somebody pushes back and that he sees President Obama as a weak character. You don't talk to Putin for an hour and a half on the phone. You have about a five minute conversation. You say, Mr. President, what you are doing is wrong. It's illegal. You are breaking the 1994 agreement between Russia and the Ukraine. You are outside of the International Law. And we will take decisive action unless you withdraw immediately. You don't stay on the phone with the guy an hour and a half. I think Putin believes that Obama is really all talk and no action. And unless we push back soon, the worse is yet to come.

VAN SUSTEREN: Push back, is that economic sanctions or are you suggesting even something more military presence?

GRAHAM: We don't need a military intervention in the Ukraine. We need to help their economy. We need to punish the people around Putin who travel and live like kings throughout the world. We need to stop business as usual. We should keep Russia out of the G-8 and G-20. We should put Georgia neighbor to Russia in NATO to protect their interest. And we should protect our allies in the region and make the people around Putin pay a heavy economic price.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. So, what does that mean though as we try to get help from Putin with Iran's Nuclear Weapons Program and with Syria and their chemical weapons?

GRAHAM: It means you can't rely upon Putin to do anything that is in our best interest. The chemical weapons deal that the Russians have negotiated has been a disaster for us. Our Director in National Intelligence said Assad is stronger because of the chemical weapons deal. They took -- they ate our lunch in Syria. You can't rely on the Russians to stop the Iranian nuclear ambition. The problem we have right now in the world -- that America is not perceived as strong, and we are inviting aggression. The only way you are going to get the Iranian's attention is for them to believe that we will hit them militarily or that sanctions will stay in place unless they change their behavior. And really Russia is about Iran as much as it is anything else.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. When you say the United States is not perceived as strong, are you saying we are weak?

GRAHAM: I'm saying that our allies in the gulf see us as a weak ally and that our enemies are emboldened. Look at what's going on in the world. Al Qaeda is coming back. And Russia is on the march. Now, President Obama, if he continues this, you are going to send absolutely the worst signal to the Iranians. The Iranians have to believe after this debacle in Syria and now Russia that Barack Obama does not mean it when he says all options are on the table. If the Iranians do not believe that military action is on the table, they are going to march toward a nuclear capability, putting Israel in a world of hurt.

The world is never in a better place when you have a weak, indecisive American president. And Russia is a symptom of that weakness. Again, it started with Benghazi. When you kill Americans and nobody pays a price. You invite this type of aggression.

VAN SUSTEREN: Senator, thank you, sir.