Latest News

Ahead of Trump-Putin Summit, Rubio Urges Administration to Remain Clear-Eyed on Putin’s Objectives

Jul 12, 2018 | Press Releases

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) spoke on the Senate floor today regarding the upcoming meeting in Helsinki between President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Earlier today, Rubio and Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) outlined how they are teaming up with legislators from Canada and Europe to sound the alarm of Russian meddling in foreign elections. This month, Rubio encouraged Florida’s Secretary of State and 67 Supervisors of Elections to take advantage of the resources offered by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to protect its election infrastructure from hostile foreign governments’ interference. In 2016, Russian government actors actively targeted Florida’s – and the nation’s – election systems.
Excerpts of Rubio’s remarks are below:
It is impossible, I believe, for someone like [Putin] to grow up in that era and that place working where he did and not have deep suspicions and views, negative views about the United States and the West at large. The second thing that’s pretty apparent just by watching him is this is a guy who is pretty competitive. He kind of views everything as a personal thing, personal level dominance is important to him but more importantly his relationship with the United States is a competitive one.
I think by and large he views the world as a zero sum game but he most certainly views the relationship it the United States and Russia as a zero sum game. Meaning this, meaning that in any sort of interaction we’re having a Vladimir Putin, there is no scenario in which he envisions that we both do well. He believes that there is only so much success in the world and the more I have of it, the less he has of it. And I do believe it informs all the decisions that he makes. There can only be one winner.

I would not diminish the threat that Russia continues to pose to our electoral system, our society, and our politics. The number one objective of Russian efforts in 2016 — and it would be the number one objective moving forward — is encouraging infighting in our politics. They have a clear understanding of American politics and its nuances. Our societal divisions, the things we like to fight over and how we fight over them and where we fight over them on. And they have figured out and have gotten even better at being able to drive those narratives. And so when people ask, what was the real goal of those efforts in 2016, beyond anything else, it was not electing one person or another. His number one objective, was to leave a country in the United States deeply divided, at each other’s throats, constantly fighting and no matter who won that election, that is the result he wanted and that’s the result we were going to get. Those efforts continue.

This is an important meeting. It probably won’t be the last time they meet. But more important than the meeting are the issues at play between a leader in Russia who views everything as a zero-sum game in which either he wins or America wins but it can’t be mutually beneficial. We have to deal with him. He possesses a significant percentage of the world’s nuclear weapons. Between the U.S. and Russia we have 90% of the world’s nuclear weapons between these two countries. We do have to talk to them, but we have to do so very clear-eyed and that is it is a complicated but important relationship. And we should clearly understand what motivates him and what motivates his decision making and what their ultimate aims and goals are in any conversation that we have.