Rogers: US 'rhetoric doesn't match reality'

Rep. Mike RogersMichael (Mike) Dennis RogersOvernight Cybersecurity: Homeland Security official says Russia likely targeted more than 21 states | Senate approves Trump's NSA chief | Lawmakers unveil bipartisan internet privacy bill Senate confirms Trump’s new NSA director Reusability is the key for the next national security space revolution MORE (R-Mich.) said Sunday the Obama administration needs to be tougher on Russia and provide military aid to help Ukrainians defend themselves.

“We need to be a little bit tougher with [Russian President Vladimir] Putin, or he is going to continue taking territory to fulfill what he believes is rightfully Russia,” Rogers said on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” speaking from Georgia’s capital of Tbilisi. 

Rogers suggested the Obama administration isn’t completely supporting Ukraine and could do so by providing its government with military assistance.

“I don’t think the rhetoric matches the reality on the ground. You can do noncombatant military aid in a way that allows them to defend themselves. That’s all they want,” said Rogers, who added that there should be no American boots on the ground.

Small arms, medical supplies, radio equipment and defensive weapons systems are some items the United States can send to Ukraine, he said. 

Coupling that with the latest sanctions, Rogers said, “Now we have a message that says, ‘Mr. Putin we’re done with you expanding into other countries.’ ”

As chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, however, Rogers said U.S. intelligence officials believe Putin is not done expanding into Ukraine. 

“It’s very troubling,” he said of Russian troops’ military exercises along Ukraine’s eastern border. 

Rogers said he thinks it might be too late to deter Putin from encroaching on other Eastern European nations. 

“If [the Russian military] gets to the Baltics,” he said it means, “We turned our back and walked away from them. The world did that once, and it was a major catastrophe.”