Meet the Press   |  March 02, 2014

Rubio's View on Russia's Military Moves in Ukraine

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., joins Meet the Press to talk about Russia's military placement in the Ukraine and his political future.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> now i want to turn to republican senator marco rubio of florida, a member of the senate foreign relations committee . senator, welcome back to the program.

>> thank you, good prng.

>> how did we get here.

>> do you agree with om so of your colleagues who say it's the weakness of president obama and the united states right now that emboldened president putin of russia ?

>> i think our policy towards russia under this administration deserves heavy criticism. i usually shy away from that when it's important for the nation to speak with one voice. i'm enkirnlged which what i heard secretary kerry say a moment ago. there already things i would like to see us do in addition to the steps he outlined. as we look forward to our future relationship with russia , it's important to learn from the errors of the last few years. i think we have not accurate lit assessed clearly what it is russia 's goals are under vladimir putin . they're not interested in building an international norm that nations conduct themselves under like what secretary kerry was describing a moment ago. they're interesting in reconstituting russian power and russian prestige. often at the expense of u.s. national interests .

>> what do you do about that? because that was true under president bush , as well. who famously said that he thought he could the trust vladimir putin only to find out what he couldn't and then putin invaded separatist region of georgia and the u.s. didn't do much about it. isn't the same predicament here? you may know what putin wants to do, but what are you prepared to do in terms of the use of american power to stop it.

>> first of all, i think previous administrations deserve criticism, as well with regards to clearly viewing what vladimir putin 's goals are here. moving forward, if you look at secretary kerry a moment ago mentioned success with the start treaty . we know the russians have basically violated every major treaty they've entered into. we've seen how they've basically lied. they are lying and this government is a government of liars, the russian government . you see what's happening in crimea . you've got individuals showing up in unmarked uniforms wearing masks. clearly they're russian troops even though they refuse to acknowledge it. you're dealing with a government that lies as a matter, of course, and it's very difficult to enter an understanding with them on anything when they are willing to lie and cover things up in this way.

>> you're saying as you did in a piece you wrote for politico that we've got to the use blunt talk. i ask you for blunt talk. is russia an enemy of the united states now?

>> i think they're increasingly behaving like an enemy of international peace and norms. after the end of world war ii and through the cold war era , the spread of democracy and freedom and established norms for nations to interact with one another so we would never have another world war . under this president putin , russia does not seem interested in any of that. they are an enemy of that and an enemy of the united states with regard to those things i've outlined. if you look at the issues they've taken on issue of an issue, they've been an obstacle to u.s. national interest .

>> the president said the we're watching and we want to make sure that will nobody crosses the line or there will be consequences. last sunday at this table, susan rice , national security advisor , said it would be a grave mistake for russia to invade the crimea . on friday the president says there will be a cost to intervention. what does it say to you that vladimir putin has ignored the united states for ten days?

>> well, part of it is he's made a cost benefit analysis . he has weighed the costs of doing what he's done and the benefits. clearly he concluded the benefits far outweigh the costs. we need to change that calculus. i think secretary kerry outlined accurately enough one of our goals here needs to be to isolate russia , exact an extraordinary price to payen ot international front for them, for their ambitions, ultimately for individuals in that government and for their economy. the other part of this that's not receiving enough attention is the u.s. must convene our allies both in europe and through nato to strengthen the interim government in kiev to allow them to transition to a drake government, be able to hold their elections. that's critical, too. i think the next phase in this, perhaps you're seeing the outlines of it already are russians trying to undermine the government if kiev .

>> do you think there is a military option for the united states ornate tote? in other words, do you advocate now going beyond what you just heard from secretary kerry , which was economic isolation, perhaps expelling russia from the g-particular sanctions to key russian officials and the like?

>> i think if you're asking me whether the u.s. should be taking military strikes against russian troops and ukraine or in crimea , i would argue i don't think anyone is advocating to are are that. i am saying however that our nato alliance needs to be reinvigorated, is an important alliance. countries that neighbor ukraine, for example, are poland and others who had part of that alliance, we need to be providing them assurance hads of the importance of this alliance including perhaps -- we should revisit the missile missile defense shield we talked about so often. beyond that, i would say it's part of strengthening and stabilizing the government in kiev now so they can transition to stability down the road, as well, i think part of that should be strengthening their defense capabilities. i think this threat is a long-term one they're facing

>> you've been focused on foreign policy challenges in venezuela. there are protests there against the government and a crackdown against protesters in the streets. what would like to see the administration do?

>> first we need to clearly pronounce ourselves as more than just concerned about what's happening. we need to say clearly the united states and its people and its government are firmly on the side of the ambitions and desires, the rightful desires of the people in the streets, the students and young people protesting against violations. beyond that, i would like to see specific u.s. sanctions against individuals in the maduro government that are systematically participating in the violation of human rights and anti-drake actions. those would go a long way in that regard.

>> i want to ask you a couple questions about politics here back home. one has to do with the big controversy out of arizona, a bill that was vetoed by the governor and the general concern than some conservatives in the party have that as gay rights rights advance specifically, that sometimes religious freedom in this country is being trampled on. is this a key issue for republicans, you think, in this election year?

>> here's the key issue. on the one hand, i think americans the vast majority of conservatives are against discrimination, the notion that someone because they are gay would be denied service at a restaurant and so for the is the something americans don't support, conservatives don't support. the other side is imagine now if you are a southern baptist or catholic or evangelical photographer who does not believe in gay marriage and because of that you don't want to the provide services for a guy marriage. should you be sanctioned by the state for refusing to do so? that's what they endeavored to deal with arizona. i never read the law. as i said, we've been pretty busy this week on a number of fronts. the governor maybe felt that that law extended beyond that, but that is also a legitimate concern. it's one we're going to have to balance as this issue continues to unfold across the states here in america.

>> you don't think this was an open and shut case? this was tough for you. you think the law had some merit without saying that you support it.

>> i don't believe that gay americans should be denied services at a restaurant or hotel or anything of that nature. i don't believe however that a caterer or photographer should be punished by the state for refusing to provide services for a gay wedding because of their religious believes. we've got to figure out a way to the protect that, as well.

>> i know you and others who are often talked about as presidential candidates in 2016 are trying to deal with the business at hand. there's a lot of speculation about your standing. i want to the read chris cillizza . no matter what rubio does now to placate conservativatives his opponents will i'm the voters of his involvement in legislation that provided a path for undocumented workers. while that may be a general republic point where republicans badly need to court hispanics, it's not likely to be popular in places like iowa and south carolina , two states that cast some of the earliest votes for president in 2016 . are you damages goods because of your support for that's right immigration bill ?

>> i don't know. i certainly knew going into immigration reform that's not exactly sa the kind of issue you take on with regard to becoming politically popular among some segments. i would say the concerns conservatives have are legitimate ones. what i endeavor to do is try to find a solution to a real problem the country is confronting. i understand it's a difficult one. i knew that going in. i'll continue to do what's right for the country, what i believe to be right on issue of an issue and where that leads me politically, that's what elections are for and campaigns are for. but i'm not going to let the future of political considerations stop me from doing what i believe is right for the country or doing my job during my time in the senate.

>> are you undeterred at this point? will you pursue the president is i in 2016 ?

>> well, i haven't made that decision and i didn't come here this morning to make that announcement. that's something i'll consider later in the year, next year. as you know in 2016 , pie term in the senate expires. i'll have a decision to make either way . i think our country's at an important crossroads on the international front and a domestic front. i'll have to think about whether from that role in the presidency i would be able to influence that in a positive way.

>> senator rubio, a lot going on here internationally and in politics. thank you very much for your time this morning.

>> thank you.