U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., joined U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and other prominent Republicans in unveiling legislation calling for imposing sanctions on Russia for its military actions against the Ukraine.
The Republican senators also took shots at President Barack Obama for the administrations response to Russias incursions in the Crimea.
"I'm deeply disappointed with the tepid response to Russian aggression, McConnell told the media on Wednesday and other Republican senators agreed with that assessment.
McConnell, Rubio and the other Republican senators -- including John McCain of Arizona, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Bob Corker of Tennessee and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina -- are calling for speeding up a missile defense system to protect Europe and impose sanctions on Russian companies' banks, energy conglomerates and Rosoboronexport, a weapons manufacturer. The Republicans are also calling for $100 million of military aid to Ukraine.
Appearing on Univision radio earlier this week, Rubio defended increased sanctions on Russia as appropriate due to their actions in the Crimea.
I think the cost, due to the measures Putin has taken, will have to be a high cost, Rubio said. Obviously, the subject of Crimea is no longer discussed because I think that'?s a lost cause, that -- and unfortunately, that'?s how it is in the short term ... -- most of the world has accepted what?'s happened there, but right now we?'re seeing that the rest of Ukraine is being threatened by these measures. And it?'s important for these measures to be taken in terms of preventing any type of additional action by Putin and Russia, which threatens the peace and stability of the entire region."
Rubio also said that there are major differences between American relations with Russia today than there were in the Cold War.
I think it'?s a different era that we?'re dangerously entering into because, after the Cold War ended, the world has accepted several standards, including that a country?'s neighbors can'?t simply invade a neighbor because they don'?t like the direction that country has taken, Rubio said. But that'?s exactly what'?s occurring here. Putin has made the decision that he wants Russia to be a global power, and the way in which -- one of the things that a global power has in mind is the ability to dominate their neighbor, including its neighbor which was part of the former Soviet Union. And that?'s why we'?re seeing these actions taking place. The world has to unite with a very clear message that that'?s not acceptable, that that'?s not an acceptable measure, and that there are very serious consequences for taking those kinds of measures.
Rubio ripped Obamas handling of the situation, calling it undecisive, who said he was going to ... take the United States out of all types of involvement on an international world level. The Florida senator insisted this would have consequences.
I think that sent a message to China, to Russia, to other countries, that they had the opportunity to expand, to act on the desire that they?'ve had for a long time, Rubio said. And that'?s not my opinion. Many people have told me that in different foreign governments who see this country'?s policy as an uncertain policy that really doesn'?t have control over what'?s occurring, and that sometimes -- incompetent, that they'?re not competent in running foreign matters in this country.
In the meantime, the administration is attempting to handle the situation despite Obama being out of the country as he continues his Asian tour. On Tuesday, Vice President Joe Biden met with Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma of Latvia. According to the White House, Biden and Straujuma discussed the situation in Ukraine and agreed on the need for the United States and Europe to remain united in confronting Russias destabilizing actions in eastern Ukraine and its illegal occupation of Crimea.
Earlier in the week, the White House said sanctions were being put in place against Russia.
"The United States has taken further action today in response to Russia's continued illegal intervention in Ukraine and provocative acts that undermine Ukraine's democracy and threaten its peace, security, stability, sovereignty, and territorial integrity," the administration said.
The Obama White House targeted seven Russian government officials, including two members of President Putin's inner circle, who will be subject to an asset freeze and a U.S. visa ban, and 17 companies linked to Putin's inner circle, which will be subject to an asset freeze.
Reach Kevin Derby at firstname.lastname@example.org.