Mar 01 2017
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Chris Coons (D-DE) today warned of the dangers posed by Vladimir Putin’s aggression against the West, the implications for the transatlantic alliance and global security, and how the U.S. government should respond. In a joint floor speech on the Senate floor, the senators highlighted Russian meddling in U.S. elections, as well as Russian dissidents and critics of Putin who have been assassinated or harmed.
U.S. Senators Marco Rubio & Chris Coons
U.S. Senate Floor
March 1, 2017
RUBIO: I am here today to discuss, along with the senator, the issue of Russia. I know it's been at the forefront of much of the debate that's ongoing in this country, and I wanted to begin by commending the vice president and secretary of defense and secretary of homeland security, secretary of state for their strong message of support for NATO. And that includes the president last night… and their strong support, by the way, for the transatlantic alliance that these individuals outlined during their respective visits at the Munich Security Conference and meetings with allies in February.
At that Munich Security Conference on the 18th of February, the Russian foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, said – this is a quote – ‘I hope,’ -- he means the world – ‘will choose a democratic world order, a post-West one in which each country is defined by its sovereignty’ – end quote. And I think that based on recent history, it’s clear that when a Russian leader says "post-West," we should interpret that as a phrase to mean ‘post-Americans.’
I would begin by reminding everyone that when we are talking about Russia, we are not talking about the Russian people. We're talking about Vladimir Putin and the cronies that surround him and their goals for the future. We have no quarrel with the Russian people, who I actually believe would very much want to have a better relationship with the United States and certainly live in a world in which their country was more like ours than the way their government now runs theirs.
And the second thing I would point to is, it's important to understand history. At the end of the Second World War, Nazism had been conquered and the Japanese Empire, its designs had also been ended, fascism defeated. And the U.S. and the world entered this period of a cold war, a battle between Communism and the free world. And the United States and our allies stood for that freedom. At the fall of the Berlin Wall, the end of the Soviet bloc, the fall of communism, the world we all hoped had entered into this new era where every nation had a different system, maybe some had a parliamentary system, maybe some had a republic such as ours, but in the end more people than ever would have access to a government responsive to their needs. And that was the growing trend around the world up until about seven, eight, 10 years ago.
We now see the opposite; we see a rising arc of totalitarianism and within that context is where I believe Vladimir Putin's world view is constructed. He views the values that we stand for, which some may call Western values, and perhaps that’s the right terminology, but I really believe they're universal values, the idea that people should have a role to play in choosing their leaders, that people should have the freedom to worship as they see fit, that people should be able to express their opinions and ideas freely without fear of retribution or punishment by their government, these are the values that I think we have stood for and that our allies have stood for and that we had hoped Russia would stand for in this new era. But Vladimir Putin viewed that as a threat.
[19:30] I am a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee. It’s publically known that we are undertaking an investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 elections. I want everyone to know, I speak for myself and I believe if not all of my colleagues, almost all of my colleagues, to say on the one hand I'm not interested in being a part of a witch hunt. On the other hand, I will not be part of a cover-up. We are going to get to the truth. We want to get to the truth. We want to be able to deliver to this body and to the American people a document with truth and facts wherever they may lead us because this is above political party. Our system of government and this extraordinary republic that's been around for over two centuries is unique and it is special, and with all its blemishes and flaws, I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world.
I want people to think about that. The next time you wonder and say to yourself, ‘things are so tough in America, things are going so poorly.’ Well, who would you trade places with? I’m not saying we don't have problems because we do, but I ask you what country would you rather be? I promise you, you won't say China, if you know anything about China. I promise you, you won't say Russia, if you know anything about Russia. There isn't a nation on Earth you would trade places with, and there is no process of government that I would trade for ours.
It is not perfect, and one of the strengths of our system is our ability to stand up here in places like this in the Senate and discuss our differences and our problems and make continuous progress forward, even if sometimes the pace is slower and more frustrating than we wish, and that is what's at stake here in this process. That is what's at stake here in this debate. And that's what none of us can allow to see erode because of interference by a foreign government, especially one whose leader is a thug and a war criminal in every sense of the word.
And so, again, our quarrel, as my colleague said, is not with the Russian people, it is not with Russia. I have extraordinary admiration for the Russian people. I have extraordinary admiration for the sacrifices and the contributions that they have made throughout history to our culture and to the world, but unfortunately today their government is run by an individual who has no respect for his own people and has no respect for the freedom and the liberty of others, and it is important for our policymakers on both sides of the aisle to be clear-eyed and clear-voiced in what we do moving forward.
And I thank the senator for being with us here today and allowing us to engage in this discussion. I hope we'll see more of that in the weeks and months to come so that we can speak clearly and firmly with one voice. That on issues involving America and our sovereignty and our system of government and the decisions we must make, we will speak with one voice as one nation, as one people, as one country.