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ICYMI: Rubio Joins The Faulkner Focus
Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) joined The Faulkner Focus to discuss U.S. aid for Ukraine amid Putin’s invasion. See below for highlights and watch the full interview here.
On Congress’s successful work pushing the Biden Administration to issue aid for Ukraine:
“Throughout this crisis you’ve seen Congress in a bipartisan way has been dragging the president to lead on it. They didn’t want to do the oil embargo. They didn’t want to do the oil cutoff. It’s Congress who pushed him to do that. It’s Congress who’s been pushing for more weaponry. It’s important to understand that we will have to continue to do that.The White House has been a step behind on each of these steps.”
On Putin’s evolving military strategy:
“More importantly, this is an evolving conflict. The Russian tactics are now changing. It was initially an effort to get rid of the Ukrainian government and install a puppet government. Now [the plan is] increasingly becoming [to] lay siege to at least six or seven cities, capture two or three of them, and strengthen their negotiating hand and their battlefield advantage. So then they can go to Ukraine and say ‘Alright, we’re ready for a ceasefire now but you’ve got to give us all this land, you’ve got to impose neutrality in your constitution, you have to dismantle your military, and you’ve got to install some pro-Russian puppets in your government. But [Putin] needs the battlefield advantage to get to that point.
“So as we see the adjustment in their tactics on the battlefield, that’s going to change the weapons and the systems that [Ukraine] is going to need to defend against [Putin].”
On the implications of establishing a no-fly zone over Ukraine:
“Members of Congress, like the general public, are watching these horrifying images of human suffering from the Russians — and it’s going to get worse, by the way, because the Russians don’t have an unlimited supply of precision-guided munitions. At some point, they’re just lobbing stuff over and it hits what it hits. It’s going to get worse and people are responding to that. People want to do something.
“A no-fly zone is something a lot of people talk about and support because they feel like that’s something we would like to see done — I would like to see that achieved. The problem is, I don’t think people fully understand what it entails.
“[A no-fly zone] t entails knocking out surface-to-air missile sites inside of Russia. We’d have to go into Russia and knock those out. It does involve a massive escalation and, in the end, it’s not going to necessarily solve the problem that Ukraine now faces with a significant number of mortar and artillery mass firings. The no-fly zone can’t restrict that unless you’re going to knock out the artillery batteries as well.
“I do think there are things we can do to help Ukraine. The surface-to-air missile systems that they’re asking for, that hopefully will be provided, are systems they know how to operate. That would make it harder for Russia to operate in the air space, especially with long-range strategic bombers.”
On the Biden Administration’s decision not to send aircraft to Ukraine:
“The issue about the MiGs is the way it was handled, I think, was inappropriate. What stunned a lot of people was that 48 hours earlier, the Secretary of State was saying he was for it and then suddenly [was] not for it.
“I think there’s a legitimate debate about how useful they would be, but if that’s what Ukraine wants and we’re trying to help them, we should try to facilitate that, not look to automatically dismiss it in a way that created this confusion now that might be misread by the Russians as weakness on our part in terms of being supportive of Ukraine. It was handled very poorly.
“Obviously, aircraft can be used for defensive purposes. Any time a country invades you, everything you do is defensive. We are not talking about equipping Ukraine to invade Russia. We’re talking about equipping them to defend their own country. The Russians are the invaders here.”
On President Biden’s description of Vladimir Putin as a war criminal:
“It states the obvious. At some point you have to be clear with people and not play games about how you feel about the situation. War crimes are being committed.
“The deliberate targeting of civilians in a war — ‘I’m going to hit a hospital, I’m going to hit a shelter where people are hiding from the bombs, I’m going to deliberately target that’ — that is a war crime. And the person ordering those strikes is a war criminal. And that’s Vladimir Putin. He is the commander-in-chief of the Russian armed forces, who are carrying out these targeted attacks against civilians and civilian locations. There’s no other way to describe him. It’s just a matter of fact.
“Again, [it’s] another example of the president being dragged to that position yesterday [when he called Putin a war criminal]. It didn’t even look planned. It looked like something he said on the fly, moving through a scrum at the White House, and then of course his people have to run and clean it up. I just think it states the obvious, what everybody already sees with their own eyes.”
On fears of escalation:
“My take on it is that when you deal with someone like Vladimir Putin, there’s a careful balancing act. On the one hand, it is true there are things that responsible leaders have to do to avoid escalation. No one wants a nuclear exchange. No one wants them using tactical nuclear weapons. We don’t want to inadvertently wind up in a major conflict between NATO and Russia. On the other hand, you have to understand that sometimes caution and those kinds of actions are an encouragement. It’s basically encouraging someone like Putin to do more.
“I think the President is getting that balance wrong. He has been led, on many of these issues he’s been dragged, by members of his own party in Congress to position after position with regards to Ukraine. I think that existed before the invasion, and it was a contributing factor to this happening.
“But now our focus should be on doing everything we can to help Ukraine defeat Russia, whether it’s a strategic defeat or an operational one. Putin needs to take a L here and I believe he will. Certainly on the strategic front he’s going to take an L, and I think he might even take it operationally. And it could ultimately lead to his downfall.”