What would a Republican president do about Ukraine?

Over the long run, the United States should strengthen its military relationship with Ukraine, Corker said — but not now, in the heat of the crisis. “Military assistance isn’t the priority today,” he said. “It’s to establish with the Ukrainians that we’re going to be with them over the long haul.”

The calmest part of the Republican Party when it comes to Ukraine may be its most traditional realists, who ran foreign policy during several presidencies.

The main U.S. goal in Ukraine, former national security advisor Brent Scowcroft said last week, should be to make sure the conflict in Russia’s backyard doesn’t spread to other countries or other issues.

“I don’t think it’s an issue of that great consequence,” Scowcroft said of Crimea. It would be a mistake, he said, to try to match Russia “belligerence by belligerence.”

“That may be where we end up, but I doubt we have to start there.”