Hawkish Rubio: 'We're fools' to ignore Russia

Hawkish Rubio: 'We're fools' to ignore Russia

Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioGOP senators plan to tune out impeachment week Republicans warn election results are 'wake-up call' for Trump Paul's demand to out whistleblower rankles GOP colleagues MORE (R-Fla.) said Tuesday that the U.S. should be doing more to reassure NATO allies in the face of Russian aggression.

Rubio said Russia was deploying spy ships and provocative air patrols at a level not seen since during the Cold War in the 1960s.

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"The Russians have already completely changed their military doctrine. They are now aggressively on a Cold War footing," he said on the Hugh Hewitt Show. 

"We can continue to ignore that and pretend that that’s not a risk, but I think we’re fools if we do," he said. 

Rubio called for the U.S. to reinvigorate a missile defense shield in Eastern Europe and consider deploying additional troops in Western Europe. He also said the U.S. should arm Ukrainian forces facing Russian-backed separatists, something that President Obama has ruled out so far. 

"At some point this spring, you mark my words, and you keep this recording, there is going to be at some point separatists moving on a spring offensive again," he warned. 

"They’re going to try to seize key towns like Donetsk and Luhansk, and you’re going to see that happen here fairly soon. So we need to be prepared for that," he said. 

Rubio said Russia's success in Ukraine was inviting further aggression, possibly against Eastern European NATO members, which the U.S. would have to protect. 

Rubio also called for increased U.S. defense spending in 2016, and explained his decision to support increasing spending by $20 billion next year, without finding offsets.

"I have no problem offsetting it if it is possible," he said, but added, "The cause of our national debt is not military spending or discretionary spending in general. 

"We need to fund national defense, because that is the priority of the national federal government, and that’s the reason, the primary reason why we have a federal government, is to provide for our national defense," he said.

He said the U.S. needed the Ohio-class nuclear submarine and a long range strike bomber, and that it should modernize nuclear stockpiles. 

He also said the U.S. needed 12 or 13 aircraft carrier groups, over the current 10, to fill carrier availability gaps in the Asia Pacific.

He warned that although the U.S. had a military edge over China, it would be "not for much longer" unless the U.S. continued to improve its capabilities. 

The interview and increasingly hawkish tone comes one day after Rubio declared his candidacy for president. 

Rubio said criticism that he was too young or inexperienced was "illegitimate" and "ironic," since he said he had more experience than President Obama when he was elected president. He also said he served for nine years in multiple leadership positions in the legislature of the third-largest state. 

However, he suggested the age of potential Democratic rival Hillary Clinton's "ideas" was a legitimate issue, and that her ideas were "outdated." 

"Secretary Clinton’s going to struggle to connect with everyday Americans and their struggles of daily life. I mean, and that’s a big problem. That’s one of the reasons why her ideas are so outdated," he said. "They’re still ideas based on an era that came and went." 

"There are millions of people out there that are working as hard as they ever had. But now they live paycheck to paycheck," he said. "It’s an extraordinary amount of insecurity, and we need to address that." 

On immigration, he said the president not enforcing federal immigration laws was a "very serious problem," but said "We don’t have systems to fully enforce our law." 

"That’s why we need border security, e-verify, entry/exit tracking system to prevent visa overstays," he said. 

He also said the legal immigration system was outdated, and should be "merit-based, not family-based." 

The U.S. needed to deal with the 12 million "human beings living in America illegally, most of whom have been here for longer than a decade," he added. 

"But it all begins with enforcing our laws. If our people do not believe that future illegal immigration will be controlled, they will never even support a debate or a conversation about what to do with those who are here now," he said.