Rubio to Obama: Hold Putin accountable


Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioOvernight Cybersecurity: Bipartisan bill aims to deter election interference | Russian hackers target Senate | House Intel panel subpoenas Bannon | DHS giving 'active defense' cyber tools to private sector Senators unveil bipartisan push to deter future election interference Puerto Rico's children need recovery funds MORE (R-Fla.) is calling on the Obama administration and Congress to take more forceful steps to hold Russian President Vladimir Putin accountable for actions in Ukraine, including dispatching U.S. military personnel to aid allies.

In an op-ed for The Washington Post published late Wednesday, Rubio said he hoped the United States would deploy military personnel and provide military assistance to its allies in Eastern Europe.

“It is shameful that even as Russia attempts to carve up Ukrainian territory, Ukraine’s request for weapons, intelligence sharing and other assistance has been turned down by the Obama administration,” Rubio said.   

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) had also been pushing for the U.S. to provide military aid to Ukraine. President Obama, however, suggested Wednesday the U.S. military will not get involved in the conflict between Ukraine and Russia. 

"We are not going to be getting into a military excursion in Ukraine. What we are going to do is mobilize all of our diplomatic resources to make sure that we’ve got a strong international correlation that sends a clear message,” he told the NBC affiliate in San Diego.

The administration was “ill-advised,” Rubio said, to include a set of controversial reforms to the International Monetary Fund in a Senate package that would aid Ukraine and impose sanctions against Russia. But he clarified Congress should look past those provisions and stand united behind Obama.

“Although I remain concerned by the proposed IMF reforms included in the legislation, the need to send a strong bipartisan message of solidarity to the people of Ukraine and a statement of resolve to Moscow far outweighs any misgivings I and others might have,” he said.

Rubio also recommended that the U.S. should broaden sanctions against Russia so that Putin is targeted. The White House said earlier this week it wouldn’t rule out that option. The U.S. should “diplomatically isolate” Russia and suspend its membership from the G-8 alliance, Rubio added.

Obama should also urge allies, he said, to impose an arms embargo on Russia.

Rubio warned that if Putin is not challenged and held accountable for annexing Crimea from Ukraine, it could set a dangerous precedent. 

“While it is best to avoid conflict whenever possible, history shows that illegitimate aggressions that go unchallenged are a virtual guarantee of even more dangerous conflict in the future.”