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ICYMI: Rubio Joins CBS Mornings
Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) joined CBS Mornings to discuss Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. See below for highlights and watch the full interview here.
On what is happening in Ukraine:
“These so-called ‘breakaway regions’ and the people who run them, they don’t just claim the area they currently possess, they claim areas that are currently under the power of Kyiv. What’s going to happen is that Russia is going to send in troops into areas those two separatist regions control, and they’re going to move in on areas Kyiv controls because they’re claiming them too. And when Kyiv fights back, they’re going to say that triggers their mutual defense agreement that Putin signed yesterday with this fake new country, and he’s going to move in with those areas as well.
“I think he takes basically the entire east of the country, and I think he’ll try to take Kyiv. I think the Ukrainians are going to fight back. But this is going to have an impact on Americans even though it seems really far away.”
On what comes next after sanctions on Russia:
“I don’t believe the sanctions are going to stop them from doing their plan, but if you [Putin] don’t pay a price for doing this, he’s going to do more of it. If you listen to that speech yesterday, the argument he used for invading Ukraine, you could make that argument about any of the Baltic states who are now all members of NATO. Many of those Baltic states were part of the old Russian Empire even longer than Ukraine.
“He’s not going to stop with Ukraine if he’s allowed. He must pay a big price for it, but we’ve got to return to our own domestic energy production as a matter of national security now. Because Russia and this disruption that this is going to create is going to increase oil prices and we’re going to feel that at the pump in America. That will increase prices on everything because everything we buy and sell is transported by something burning gas or diesel.”
On how a Russian invasion of Ukraine will affect Americans:
“I’ll focus on four things. The first is the price of oil. If the price of oil goes up to 110, 115 dollars a barrel, we’re going to feel that at the pump.
“The second thing is, Ukraine is one of the world’s largest agricultural producers, the fourth largest in wheat, the fifth largest in corn. [An invasion of Ukraine] is going to raise global food prices, which eventually impacts us, because when somebody gets cut off from [Ukrainian supplies], they become our competitors in the global market for food costs.
“The third is, Ukraine is the world’s leading producer of neon gas, which is critical to the production of semiconductors. 90 percent of the neon gas used to make semiconductors in America – which we have a shortage of already – comes from Ukraine. If that’s disrupted or cut off, we are going to struggle. I remember back in 2014, when [Russia invaded Crimea], it increased the prices of semiconductors, and you can see now where that’s playing out in our economy.
“[The fourth is] our space industry. We still depend on Russia for key components of many of our commercial launches. [If Russian imports are cut off], you could begin to see launches scrapped, things that are critical to both national security and also our commercial viability.”
On how the Biden Administration has handled the invasion:
“They should have treated [yesterday’s announcement] as a full-scale invasion. I hope that’s what they’ll do today. Last night they seemed to indicate moving into areas controlled by separatists is public acknowledgement of what’s already true. I didn’t think that was an appropriate response.
“Beyond that, one of the things that gave Putin the belief that now’s the time to act is global oil prices. And the decision in the United States to make it harder to do global and gas exploration has contributed to those higher prices which, in turn, has empowered [the Russians]. In an ironic way, even though this crisis is going to create higher oil prices, it benefits Putin. And it’s his leverage. He believes the Europeans, who depend on him heavily, will not be able to sustain sanctions for long because of energy prices. It was a big mistake to make it harder to do exploration. We became energy independent in 2019. We need to go back to that.”
On the likelihood of military contact between the United States and Russia:
“It shouldn’t [come to that], because a war between the U.S. and Russia is not going to be good for anybody. These are the world’s two largest nuclear powers and that’s one of the things, even as we are firm in our response, we have to try everything possible to avoid, because it can escalate very quickly.
“We are not the world’s policeman. We’re not sending troops into Ukraine, but our number one priority is our national interest. Our national interest is impacted by what is happening there, and I outlined some of the reasons why.
“If COVID taught us anything, it’s that something that starts halfway around the world can reach Main Street America pretty quickly. Obviously, this is not at that scale, but it’s important enough to care about it.”
On how Americans should respond to the Russia-Ukraine conflict:
“First of all, pray for your leaders and pray for Ukraine, that people make some wise choices.
“This is a moment of high tension, because there is the danger of escalation. I think Russia is going to respond with cyber [at] some level, which, in turn, would require a response from us. And you fear that escalation could lead to…active combat, which would be just incredibly dangerous.
“This is a very tense and dangerous moment. You have NATO fully mobilized, you have the largest land army since World War II amassed by the Russians. They are operating within very close proximity of one another. So this is a moment of high tension, it’s a moment for some sobriety. We have to respond strong, but we also have to be smart at the same time and avoid unnecessary and needless escalation. Because that would become catastrophic.”