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Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) today pressed the Administration regarding Russia’s growing threat to U.S. allies and interests. Rubio made his comments during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on “Russian Violations of Borders, Treaties, and Human Rights.”

Rubio asked Assistant Secretary Nuland, “Let me read you a quote here from the same individual, it’s the General Philip Breedlove. He said, ‘Russia has chosen to be an adversary and poses a long-term existential threat to the United States and to our European Allies and partners.’ He goes on to say, ‘Russia doesn’t just want to challenge the agreed rules of the international order, it wants to rewrite them.’

“Is that your assessment of the state of Russia today under Vladimir Putin as far as a role in the international scene?”

Nuland responded, “Senator, I don’t have a problem with that characterization at all.”

A partial transcript of Rubio’s remarks is below. A video is available here, and a broadcast quality video available for download is available here.

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio
U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Hearing
Washington, D.C.
June 7, 2016
https://youtu.be/75CFAXxDtik

Senator Marco Rubio: “Let me read you a quote here from the same individual, it’s [by] General Philip Breedlove. He said, ‘Russia has chosen to be an adversary and poses a long-term existential threat to the United States and to our European Allies and partners.’ He goes on to say, ‘Russia doesn’t just want to challenge the agreed rules of the international order, it wants to rewrite them.’

“Is that your assessment of the state of Russia today under Vladimir Putin as far as a role in the international scene?

The Honorable Victoria Nuland, Assistant Secretary, Bureau Of European And Eurasian Affairs, U.S. Department of State: “Senator, I don’t have a problem with that characterization at all.”

Rubio: “So then let me ask about Ukraine. Roman Sohn, who’s a Ukrainian activist, he wrote about Minsk-2. He called it a ‘farce,’ and here’s his quote, ‘While Russia does nothing to implement the agreement, the U.S. and EU are forcing Minsk-2 down the throat of Kyiv and that Putin knows that it is much easier for the West to put pressure on Ukraine to accept bad terms than to forge a consensus on keeping the pressure, including sanctions, on Russia’

“I seem to share those views given the fact that it appears that Russia is perfectly comfortable with what they view as a ‘frozen conflict’ in the region. Obviously some of what they’re doing in Syria is distracting attention. We don’t talk about Ukraine around here nearly as much as we once did, everyone is focused on the role they’re playing in Syria and I think part of the calculation Putin had was exactly that. But it is in fact a ‘frozen’ situation.

“I walked in late when Senator Menendez was asking about this, but why is he wrong when he characterizes it as a farce? Why is he wrong when he characterizes it as a situation where no one is pressuring Russia to comply, but they know that the West and our European partners are pressuring Kyiv, especially the Germans, to comply?”

Rubio: “Could an argument be [made] that this pain threshold is something that Putin is willing to accept? It clearly has not impacted his behavior. Or do you argue that the sanctions have impacted his behavior?”

Nuland: “All I can tell you is we have deterred further land-grabs in Ukraine and that was a real risk when we first started with sanctions, that they would try to run all the way to Kyiv and to Kharkiv.

“I will tell you that Russians are openly talking now about the pain of sanctions, including when we work with them on the Minsk thing. So they know what it’s going to take to get these sanctions rolled back and it’s their choice whether they want to do what’s necessary.”