Press Releases

Rubio: “I think now is the time to sit down and calculate, with our European allies, a long-term strategy to break the sort of dependence on the oil and natural gas from Russia that gives them a disproportionate amount of leverage over these countries.”


U.S. Senator Marco Rubio
CNN’s “The Lead with Jake Tapper”
April 8, 2014
http://youtu.be/bYLXh8A726U

CNN’s Jake Tapper: “The Secretary of State, John Kerry, testified today that the Administration believes these protests going on in eastern Ukraine are fake and a pretext for Russia to invade.”  

Senator Marco Rubio: “Well, certainly I think we’ve seen evidence of that, even beginning with Crimea where you’ve seen the Russians send agents and other trained elements to stir the sort of pretext for any sort of intervention. And there’s strong evidence of that and I’m glad he said that today, publicly. I think we’ve suspected that for quite a bit of time.”  

Tapper: “Do you think Putin takes seriously threats of consequences from Kerry and Obama?” 

Rubio: “Well, what Putin is weighing is the costs and the benefits. I think he feels he can wait out international sanctions, that eventually many of these things that have been put in place will have to be removed. But that it is critical for his own survival and for his ambitions for Russia – that he in fact show his ability to engage and interfere in the affairs of countries that near his border. He’s trying to restore Russia, in his mind, as a great power. And part of that, in his mind, is the ability to have a disproportionate amount of influence over what happens in the countries that surround Russia. And so I think he continues to go through this cost-benefit analysis. The challenge for us, and the international community, of course, is how can we change that calculus? How can we, in fact, bring enough pressure from the cost-side to tilt that balance away from further encouragements? And, again, I think we’re going to have to be more aggressive in terms of the sanctions that are being undertaken in order to do that.”  

Tapper:  “What do you think the U.S. should be doing that the Obama administration is not?”  

Rubio: “I think now is the time to sit down and calculate, with our European allies, a long-term strategy to break the sort of dependence on the oil and natural gas from Russia that gives them a disproportionate amount of leverage over these countries. Certainly the U.S. can play somewhat of a role in that, in terms of exports, but I think ultimately you need to see countries like Norway and others step up and produce more.”  

Tapper: “Some of your fellow Republican senators are calling for military aid to the Ukrainian military. Do you agree?”  

Rubio: “I do. I think that improving their capabilities to provide for their own self-defense is critical. So, I’m not sure they will ever be able to match Russian military capability, conventionally or obviously beyond that, but I certainly think they can improve their capabilities to make any sort of incursion into their territory very costly. But again, that’s a long-term, ongoing process which ultimately involves training and all of the things that come with truly creating a capacity for a country.”  

Tapper: “How do you see Putin? Is he a threat to the United States?”  

Rubio: “The way to understand Vladimir Putin is he, very clearly, views the end of the Soviet Union as a tragic thing that happened. And that he views, as a result of that, Russia has lost its influence in the world. I think he views himself as a historic figure that’s going to restore Russia to its rightful place, in his mind, as a global power. And the beginning of that is the ability to basically have influence and leverage over all the countries in their near abroad. And so you saw that of course expressed in Georgia a few years ago. You see it now in Ukraine. You see the threats potentially to Moldova, moving forward.  So I think that’s how he views himself, and we need to be cognizant of it. The approach this Administration has taken, and somewhat the Bush administration, is to try to convince Putin that this is not a win/lose proposition. That Russia could benefit as well as the U.S. He clearly hasn’t bought into that. We need to be aware of it. He views this whole scenario as a zero-sum game, either they win or we win. We wish he didn’t feel that way, but he does. And as a result, we need to behave accordingly.”