Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) today expressed skepticism about the idea of a grand bargain with Vladimir Putin to fight ISIS in exchange for the lifting of U.S. sanctions against Russia for its cyberattacks against the U.S. and annexation and occupation of Ukrainian territory, calling such a deal “a fantasy.”
His remarks came during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing entitled, “The United States, The Russian Federation and the Challenges Ahead,” which featured former NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe Gen. Philip Breedlove, USAF (Ret), and Julianne Smith, senior fellow at the Center for New American Strategy.
Video of Rubio’s remarks can be watched here, and a partial transcript of his remarks is below.U.S. Senator Marco Rubio
Senate Foreign Relations Committee
February 9, 2017
Senator Rubio: It leaves Vladimir Putin at this moment in a position and maybe this is an exaggeration, I don’t think it is, I think he has more power amassed in his hands than we have ever seen in Moscow since the death of Stalin in terms of the control he has over that government and that society. And so that’s why I view – and I want to have your opinion on this, the both of you have talked about it – why I think this whole notion of a grand bargain, where they are going to help us kill terrorists and fight ISIS in exchange for lifting sanctions, is a fantasy.
For starters, I think it’s borderline immoral because it basically views the Ukraine situation as a bargaining chip to be used as part of a broader deal. In essence, an asset that we can give away in exchange for something broader, which I don’t think the Ukrainians are going to go for it to begin with and I don’t think there’s support for it in Ukraine.
But this talk about fighting against ISIS – that’s what Putin says he’s doing now. Obviously why would we have to cut a deal to get him to do what he claims to already be doing?
The other risk at that of course, is the way he claims to fight terrorists is by bombing civilians populations. So if we are in partnership with him fighting ISIS and he kills a bunch a children and bombs a hospital in Aleppo, that’s on us too because are in partnership with them. So imagine the impact that would have on us.
And then what about the price we would have to pay? I think, and I just wrote some things he would insist on, he would want us to recognize a sphere of influence in the former Soviet republics, obviously give up on everything that has to do with Ukraine, get NATO off his border, lift the sanctions. And I say all of this…why is it a fantasy? Because I don’t think there’s any internal pressure in Russia on Vladimir Putin to cut a deal.
First of all, you can’t pressure him because you die and if you try to there is no media. So we are going to try to cut a deal with a guy who thinks he’s winning, has no internal pressure, and wants us to give up everything in exchange for him doing what he claims to be doing anyway.
So maybe I am a little harsh, but I think that’s a really stupid deal.