By Tim Devaney
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said Saturday that President Obama has not done enough to deter Russian President Vladimir Putin from invading Ukraine, calling for a tougher response from Washington.
“President Obama talks tough about Vladimir Putin," Rubio said in the weekly Republican address. "But his actions have not gone far enough to change Putin’s calculation that the benefits of his aggression outweigh the costs."
President Obama was also criticized by Republicans for his handling of the civil war in Syria and, more recently, the nuclear crisis in Iran.
“The problem is that President Obama doesn’t seem to understand this," Rubio said. "Instead of shaping world events, he has often simply reacted to them. And instead of a foreign policy based on strategy, his foreign policy is based on politics."
Rubio called on Obama to support a Republican bill that would increase sanctions against Russia and provide Ukraine with military assistance.
"It would impose tough new sanctions on sectors of Putin's economy and on President Putin and his cronies," Rubio said.
The bill would also allow more U.S. natural gas exports to Europe, in order to free the continent of its dependence on Russian gas, Rubio added.
He said the U.S. should defend the values of freedom and human rights in countries such as Ukraine, as well as protect domestic interests to increase trade.
“In order to further freedom and prosperity, the Ukrainian people decided to create stronger economic ties with the West," Rubio said. "But Putin decided he would not allow that. And when his efforts to bully the Ukrainian people failed, he invaded Crimea. And now, Russian-backed forces continue to promote unrest in Eastern Ukraine."
“Some ask, ‘Why is this our problem?’ Well, because we cannot allow the precedent to be set that in order to engage the West in trade and commerce, smaller nations must first seek the permission of their more powerful neighbors," he added.