Meet the Press | April 20, 2014
>> i'm joined now by two members of the senate foreign relations committee , ranking member republican member bob corker from tennessee and the democrat chris murphy from connecticut. welcome to both of you. senator corker, let me start with you. i know you'll be in the region this coming week. here is what you've got. you've got a deal that's been undermined on the ground as you've got more violence, and here is the ukrainian prime minister saying that vladimir putin is still on the march. so what do you do now if you're the obama administration? what do you want them to do?
>> you know, the same thing i have been urging them to do by telephone and other meetings, david , and that is to go ahead and put in place some of the sarntio sanctions that have been discussed. they've signed an executive order . i don't think putin believes we're really going to punish them in that way. we keep waiting to see what their next step is. as i have said before, our foreign policy is always a day late and a dollar short because we're reacting. to me unless they immediately begin moving the 40,000 troops on the border, which are intimidating people in ukraine , unless they begin immediately moving them away, i really do believe we should be sanctioning some of the companies in the energy sector. i think we should hit some of the large banks there, and certainly we should beef up our security relationship was ukraine . we have relationships with 138 countries around the world where we help them with hardware and other kinds of things, and for us to really have drawn ukraine out, the west drew them out in this way, we've helped in many ways create the problems that are existing there, and to leave them alone in the manner that we're leaving them alone to me is just unconscionable. again, sanctions, cooperation with them relative to strengthening their military. they only have about 6,000 troops, david , that are even trained and equipped to deal with russia coming in, but, again, i think russia is going to do it overtime the way they're doing it with black ops , intimidation. i think we're going to lose eastern ukraine if we continue as we are, and i think it's going to be a geopolitical disaster if that occurs.
>> senator murphy , let me pick up on one piece of that. what i asked the ukrainian prime minister , do any need weapons from the united states ? maybe that's provocative with all the russian troops on the border, but how do you send a clear message that the ukrainian military is going to get fortified and it's not going to be outgunned the way it is now?
>> well, i have met with yatsenyuk a number of times and he didn't say anything differently than what he said to you, that their focus right now is on trying to rebuild the ukrainian economy. so his first priority is making sure that the ukrainian people who now finally have control of their own government in kiev have an economy that can sustain them. what he is interested in from a military perspective is the long-term rebuilding of the ukrainian military . now, the united states has already provided about $10 million in defensive and military aid . we've provided mres, provided equipment, we've upgraded their border capacity, but in reality it's really uncertain as to whether the sad state of the ukrainian military is so deteriorated that it can't even handle things --
>> but we're talking about the here and now.
>> that's right.
>> and the reality is that as i talk to business leaders around the country, as i talk to former diplomats, you have to worry day by day the lesson that is putin is drawing from this. he wanted crimea, he took crimea, there was no penalty. he put forces on the border, they're still there. he's already, it looks like, violated this agreement just after a couple of days. so how then do you have a strong, clear message that says to him, okay, we're done here. you can't go any further? senator corker, first to you.
>> david , i had some degree of difficulty hearing everything that you said, but, again, i think the administration is basically saying to russia , look, don't do anything overt, don't come across the border with the 40,000 troops, don't embarrass us in that way, but you can continue to undermine the sovereignty of ukraine by doing the things that you've done, and, again, i've urged in every way i can for this administration to go ahead and, again, push back now. it's going to be too late, just like we did in syria where in essence let's face it, the wisest thing, i hate to say such a crass thing on easter sunday morning, the wisest thing that assad did really was to kill 1,200 people with chemical weapons because in essence we said don't embarrass us anymore that way. you can go ahead and kill another 60,000 people with barrel bombs and by other means, but don't embarrass us, and i think that's what we're saying to russia today by the actions that we're not taking. don't embarrass us, but you can continue the black ops activities. you can continue the other things that you're doing. we know that over time you're going to reach the goalins that the prime minister so eloquently laid out. you're going to reach those, but don't do it in a way that embarrasses us. again, the world is watching. our allies in europe are watching. our nato friends and others know that this is where we are, and i think we need to step on out and do the things that we threaten because i don't think putin will respond to anything else other than us overtly doing the things we've laid out.
>> senator murphy , part of the problem with being more aggressive on sanctions is that there's an assumption that the europeans will stand fast with the united states . that may be a false assumption because they need the oil. they want to do business in russia , and it could be american businesses that are hurt along with russia as well. so the same question, of course, to you, which is how do you send that message that enough is enough?
>> well, i think this is where senator corker and i certainly agree. i think the time is now to rapidly ratchet up our sanctions whether it's on russian sha petrochemical companies or russia banks. i agree the europeans need to look at this from their security perspective as well. if russia does get away with this, i think there is a potential that a nato ally is next, and, yes, there will be economic pain for europe , but it's time for them to lead as well, and there are some things that the united states and europe can do together to try to be able to remedy that pain to europe . for instance, we can look at targeted lng exports that may not help in the next few months but will help in the next six months, next year and a half to try to degfray some of the costs to the european economy .
>> one final question, senator corker, to you. the specter of edward snowden in the middle of all this during a lengthy question and answer session that vladimir putin had where he took a question from snowden where he asked him if russia is engaged in the mass surveillance and collection of data that the united states is in. what did that exchange tell you about how putin is using snowden and the role that snowden is playing as he's got asylum in russia ?
>> again, i'm having some degree of difficulty hearing, but to me it was a tremendous public relations stunt. those of us who have traveled to russia realize that the whole time we're there we're likely being filmed and listened to. it's the one country we go into knowing that every move we make is being watched and listened to, and to make the kind of comments that they're not looking in on russian people , the russian people are very -- they know very well the government looks in on them constantly. we know that very well when we're there. so, again, in our face. again, what putin is doing to embarrass our nation, and again we should only react to substantial, not words, but what he's doing in that way to me, again, continues to undermine our credibility and candidly to show the air of permissiveness we have created around the world since lost august.
>> senators corker and murphy , happy easter to you both. thank you so much for your time this morning.