A top House Republican and former Ronald Reagan aide is dismissing claims that Russian President Vladimir Putin is trying to restore the Soviet Union, suggesting instead that the Kremlin leader is acting like Reagan in helping the cause of democracy in Crimea and Ukraine.

According to California Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, Putin “is not a communist leader” and his military’s push into neighboring countries “is not a power grab.”

Speaking against Thursday's House approval of a $1 billion aid package to Ukraine, Rohrabacher also warned that the U.S. was spending itself into bankruptcy and that Washington will have to beg for a loan from China to pay Ukraine.

“The United States can no longer afford to right every wrong in the world and be the arbiter,” said the former Reagan speechwriter. “We should not permit ourselves to reignite a cold war,” he added.

Although he has repeatedly said that the U.S. doesn't “have a dog” in the fight between Ukraine and Russia, his comments caught some by surprise, especially his strong defense of Putin.

“Putin is not a communist leader. Putin is a nationalist who loves his country and he's looking out for the national interest of his country. For us to try to demonize him and try to suggest that he is doing this like he did in the Cold War ... is not doing the cause of peace any good in Ukraine,” said Rohrabacher, who was first elected to the House in 1988.

He said that Putin is simply protecting Russia and Russians and that the decision by voters in Crimea to break from Ukraine and rejoin Russia should be cheered in Washington.

“This is not a power grab. This is defending their right for self-determination,” said the lawmaker. “Certainly the people of Crimea have the right to make that determination.”

Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at pbedard@washingtonexaminer.com.