U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., is pushing sanctions on Russia, accusing the Putin regime of “cyber intrusions, aggression, and destabilizing activities here in the United States and around the world,” including attempting to influence the 2016 presidential election.
On Tuesday, Rubio joined a host of senators from both parties--Republicans Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, John McCain of Arizona, Rob Portman of Ohio and Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Democrats Ben Cardin of Maryland, Dick Durbin of Illinois, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Robert Menendez of New Jersey and Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire--in introducing the proposal.
“Vladimir Putin is not an ally of America, and he only understands strength, not weakness in the form of unilateral concessions. These two facts are important to remember as a new president takes office,” said Rubio. “I will continue working with our bipartisan coalition to pressure Putin and his corrupt regime until Russia changes its behavior.”
“Every American should be alarmed by Russia’s brazen attack on our democracy,” said McCain. “For eight years, the United States has had no policy to deter, respond to, or retaliate against cyberattacks. As a nation, we must demonstrate that if you attack our country, you will pay a price. That’s why I’m proud to join with my Republican and Democratic colleagues in the Senate to introduce legislation that would impose new sanctions on Russia for its attack on our election and destabilizing activities in democracies around the world. Now is the time to put partisanship aside and send a signal that the United States will not stand for Russia’s aggressive actions.”
“As Russia continues its flagrant efforts to sabotage and subvert democratic norms and principles of freedom across the world, this is a significant step that sends an unequivocal response to President Putin: The U.S. Congress remains united in our absolute rejection of their rule over Crimea, belligerent actions in Syria, and will hold them accountable for their interference in our democratic system,” said Menendez.“This comprehensive, bipartisan legislation creates a broad policy framework that combines new ways to proactively support our allies, bolster democratic institutions across Europe, and also expand and strengthen aggressive sanctions across Russian individuals and entities. At a pivotal time in world affairs in the face of Russian aggression, the Countering Russian Hostilities Act makes clear that the United States will not tolerate dictatorial actions, annexation or interventionism.”
“The Russian government, directed by President Putin, launched a brazen attack on our elections that demands an aggressive response,” said Shaheen. “The facts are clear, and it’s time to act. America must stand united in sending a strong message to the Kremlin that this attack on the foundation our democracy will not go unpunished. I’m very proud to say that this legislation is bipartisan and pulls no punches. President-elect Trump should face the facts and lend his support to our effort.”
The “Countering the Russian Hostilities Act” would continue sanctions put on Russian intelligence agencies by the Obama administration, including freezing assets and denying Russian intelligence officials travel into the U.S. The sanctions also punish Russia for its military actions in the Ukraine, including limiting American investments in Russian energy companies.
Rubio returned to that theme on Wednesday from his perch on the U.S. Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, grilling Rex Tillerson, who President-elect Donald Trump wants to head the State Department, on his business transactions in Russia, his take on the Putin regime and his thoughts on sanctions on Russia.