by Mitch Perry
As the West and President Obama contemplate exactly how to react to the Russian military's seizure of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula, Senator Marco Rubio on Saturday laid out eight specific steps he said Obama should take against what he calls a "grave violation of a nation’s sovereignty" that "cannot go unpunished."
He followed up on that on Sunday with a major appearance on NBC's Meet The Press, where he said that it was important to establish that "you're dealing with a government that lies as a matter of course."
MTP host David Gregory asked the Florida Republican if Russian was now an enemy of the U.S. now?
Rubio said they were, saying, ""I think they’re increasingly behaving like an enemy of international peace and international norms. If you look, after the end of World War II and certainly through the Cold War era, the spread of democracy and freedom and established norms for nations to interact with one another so we would never have another world war. Russia, under this President Putin, does not seem interested in any of that. So they are an enemy of that. And they are certainly, as it regards to that, an enemy of the United States with regard to those things I just outlined. And if you look at the positions they’ve taken, on issue after issue, Russia has been an obstacle to U.S. national interests.”
Other Republicans were also critical on the Sunday talk shows. On Fox News Sunday, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Michigan), said "Putin was playing chess and we're playing marbles," and said Russia has been running "circles around us." On ABC's This Week, Representative Adam Kinzinger from Illinois said it was time to "respond with strength." Economic sanctions and aide to the Ukrainian people and supporting Georgia being admitted to NATO. "We're going to make it clear that Russia is a pariah state and not just for the next year, but for the next decade or two going forward."
Listed below is Rubio's eight steps:
First, President Obama should speak unequivocally and call this what it is: a military invasion. The Obama administration must publicly acknowledge that its “reset” with Russia is dead. The president must now accept that the only way to deal with tyrants like Vladimir Putin is with a clear understanding that they can’t be trusted and that only decisive action will deter their provocative moves.
Second, President Obama should dispatch Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to Kiev to show U.S. support for Ukraine’s transitional government, and urge our allies in the European Union and NATO to send representatives there as well. The United States should convene an emergency meeting of NATO to develop a strong united response from the trans-Atlantic alliance. And we should send high-level delegations to our allies in Central and Eastern Europe to reinforce the fact that we are standing by them. As part of this work with our allies, we should develop a series of economic and security assurance measures to help the transitional government in Kiev remain stable and carry out a democratic transition.
Third, the United States should rally our allies to boycott this June’s G-8 summit in Sochi, Russia. And if Russian troops do not leave Ukraine immediately, Russia should be expelled from this group altogether.
Fourth, any and all discussions and negotiations with Moscow on any issue unrelated to this crisis, including trade and other matters, should be immediately suspended.
Fifth, the U.S. and our allies should put forward a condemnatory resolution in the United Nations Security Council. A Russian or Chinese veto would make clear to the world the hypocrisy of these governments, since they say they oppose foreign intervention into the affairs of sovereign countries—unless of course they are the ones intervening.
Sixth, we should renew a push for eventual membership in NATO by the Republic of Georgia and aim to provide the country with some of the defensive capabilities the Georgians have requested ever since they were invaded by Russia in 2008.
Seventh, the Obama administration should immediately add more Russian officials to the Magnitsky list, which places travel bans and other sanctions on them — something President Obama failed to do in December. Living in Miami, I have seen in recent years the wave of Russian tourists coming to our city and state to spend money and buy property. Many are government officials or allies whose wealth stems from allegiance to Putin, and we should limit their ability to travel here.
Finally, in the Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid should immediately halt his effort to force a Senate vote on Rose Gottemoeller next week to be under secretary of state for arms control and international security. As I, Sens. John Cornyn and Jim Risch said yesterday, we shouldn’t even be thinking about arms-control negotiations with Russia anytime soon. And especially not negotiations led by a State Department official, such as Ms. Gottemoeller, who has tried to play down and potentially kept information from Congress and our allies about Russian violations of arms-control agreements.
This is a critical moment in world history. The credibility of the alliances and security assurances that have preserved the international order is at stake. If Putin’s illegal actions are allowed to stand unpunished, it will usher in a dark and dangerous era in world affairs.
Rubio has also been out-front in blasting the Venezuelan government for violently suppressing protests in recent week, and last week called for sanctions to be applied with officials associated with President Nicolás Maduro.
Rubio told Gregory on the show that "we need to say very clearly the United States, and its people and its government are firmly on the side of the ambitions and desires — the rightful desires — of the people in the streets, the students and young people protesting against these violations. Beyond that, I would like to see specific U.S. sanctions against individuals in the Maduro government that are systematically participating in the violation of human rights and anti-democratic actions. I think those two steps would go a long way in that regard.”