Skip to main content

Rubio, Cotton: Congress must act quickly to punish Putin, support Ukraine

By Marco Rubio and Tom Cotton
updated 8:37 AM EDT, Sun July 6, 2014
Ukrainian tanks are transported from their base in Perevalne, Crimea, on Wednesday, March 26. After Russian troops seized most of Ukraine's bases in Crimea, interim Ukrainian President Oleksandr Turchynov ordered the withdrawal of armed forces from the peninsula, citing Russian threats to the lives of military staff and their families. Ukrainian tanks are transported from their base in Perevalne, Crimea, on Wednesday, March 26. After Russian troops seized most of Ukraine's bases in Crimea, interim Ukrainian President Oleksandr Turchynov ordered the withdrawal of armed forces from the peninsula, citing Russian threats to the lives of military staff and their families.
HIDE CAPTION
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in Ukraine
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
32
33
34
35
36
37
38
39
40
41
42
43
44
45
46
47
48
49
50
51
52
53
54
55
56
57
58
59
60
61
62
63
64
65
66
67
68
69
70
71
72
73
74
75
76
77
78
79
80
81
82
83
84
85
86
87
88
89
90
91
92
93
94
95
96
97
98
99
100
101
102
103
104
105
106
107
108
109
110
111
112
113
114
115
116
117
118
119
120
121
122
123
124
125
126
127
128
129
130
131
132
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Rubio and Cotton feel the U.S. response on Ukraine should transcend "partisan divides"
  • They say Congress should support sanctions, implement a trade embargo
  • Consider restricting imports of natural gas and cutting off Russian banks, they say
  • They argue that similar actions will proliferate around the world if steps aren't taken now

Editor's note: Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, is a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Rep. Tom Cotton, R-Arkansas, is a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Sen. Rubio will appear on CNN's AC360 Tuesday night at 8 p.m. ET.

(CNN) -- Congress returns to Washington facing the biggest international crisis in years. It is critical the House of Representatives and Senate work together to send a strong and unified message that Russia's invasion of Ukraine is unacceptable, and take quick action to punish President Vladimir Putin.

While we are both relatively new to Washington, we've been here long enough to realize that our divided Congress isn't good at "quick action" or "unified messages."

Yet we also recognize that the roots of Russia's actions last week to invade and control Crimea are complex, and they predate President Barack Obama's tenure. This challenge is truly bigger than our partisan divides.

Putin clearly decided that the benefits of an armed intervention in Ukraine outweighed whatever costs the United States would be willing to impose.

The United States must reset that calculation.

In that spirit, we welcome Obama's call for bipartisan action in the Congress, which will hopefully move to quickly pass a serious package of financial support for Ukraine and to bolster the authorities that the administration already has to pursue and penalize Russian individuals and entities.

Live blog: 'Strong belief' Russian incursion is illegal

The United States must make clear to Putin that by violating Ukraine's sovereignty and violating multiple international commitments, he has made a strategic miscalculation that will lead to severe impacts for Russia's economy and its standing in the world.

Beyond immediate financial actions against the Russian regime and even Putin himself, if Russia attempts to expand its military operations and threatens eastern Ukraine, we and our allies in Europe need to be ready to implement a trade embargo, explore restrictions on imports of Russian natural gas, and cut off Russian banks from the international financial system. We also need to open up exports of domestic natural gas to our allies and partners in the region so that they are less susceptible to Russia's efforts to use energy as a weapon.

If, in the coming days, Russia does not back down, Ukraine will require more than just our moral and financial support, including defense assistance in the form of a military assessment team to examine Ukraine's needs, as well as enhanced intelligence cooperation.

Putin: Military force last resort

Obama: We need to de-escalate this crisis
'Ethnic cleansing' possible in Ukraine
Would Ukraine's military stand a chance?

Our allies and partners in Central and Eastern Europe are undoubtedly watching this situation with much apprehension about what it says about the credibility of American leadership and the future of the transatlantic alliance.

To this end, we need to support our emerging partners in the region.

For years, Georgia has been requesting a defensive arms package that would include anti-aircraft and anti-tank capabilities that the 2008 conflict showed were sorely needed.

We need to provide this support and finalize a Membership Action Plan (MAP) for Georgia to join NATO. For those partners already in the pipeline for membership, we should move up accession as soon as possible, even as early as the NATO Summit in Wales in September.

Recent events should break the freeze on NATO expansion that has been in place for the past five years. It is precisely the ambiguity in which NATO left Georgia after the 2008 Bucharest Summit that fueled Russia's belief that it can bully NATO partners and not face a credible response.

Opinion: Why it will be hard for West to stop Putin

We also need to show solidarity with our allies who are already in NATO. We should make clear that we share Turkey's concerns about the status of Crimean Turks and other ethnic minorities. And we should reject Russia's claims that it is protecting ethnic Russians.

How should our friends in Vilnius, Riga, or Tallinn take Russian rhetoric about the need to "protect" ethnic Russians in Ukraine when they, too, have significant populations of ethnic Russians living in their countries?

NATO should review its force posture in the region and take tangible steps to show the credibility of our Article V guarantee to the most vulnerable members of the alliance. This should include strengthening the NATO and U.S. military presence in frontline member states.

We also need to admit to ourselves that the significant military cuts proposed by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel a week ago are entirely unrealistic in today's threat environment, and that as we focus more on Asia, we cannot ignore ongoing threats to European security.

None of this will be easy. It will require leadership, not crisis management focused on de-escalation, which seems to be the primary concern of the White House.

Some of our European allies have responded strongly, and others will need prodding from the administration and even the President himself.

Some may argue that these actions are overly provocative and will only encourage Russia to be more aggressive. But provoking Russia is exactly what five years of "reset" has now achieved.

If we do not take these steps, similar actions by Russia and other authoritarian regimes around the world will only proliferate. So, too, will the uncertainty and hedging of our global allies and potential partners, who already, from Latin America to the Middle East to Asia, have plenty of reasons to doubt our seriousness and question whether America will continue to be the leading force for peace and stability in the world in the decades to come.

The stakes are extremely high, but this is an opportunity to correct some of the mistakes we have made recently in our relationship with Russia and to send a message heard around the world that America is not going anywhere.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion.

Join us on Facebook.com/CNNOpinion.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Sen. Marco Rubio and Rep. Tom Cotton.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 11:16 AM EDT, Thu August 28, 2014
Whitney Barkley says many for-profit colleges deceive students, charge exorbitant tuitions and make false promises
updated 10:34 AM EDT, Fri August 29, 2014
Mark O'Mara says the time has come to decide whether we really want police empowered to shoot those they believe are 'fleeing felons'
updated 10:32 AM EDT, Thu August 28, 2014
Bill Frelick says a tool of rights workers is 'naming and shaming,' ensuring accountability for human rights crimes in conflicts. But what if wrongdoers know no shame?
updated 10:43 PM EDT, Thu August 28, 2014
Jay Parini says, no, a little girl shouldn't fire an Uzi, but none of should have easy access to guns: The Second Amendment was not written to give us such a 'right,' no matter what the NRA says
updated 9:40 AM EDT, Thu August 28, 2014
Terra Ziporyn Snider says many adolescents suffer chronic sleep deprivation, which can indeed lead to safety problems. Would starting school an hour later be so wrong?
updated 9:30 AM EDT, Fri August 29, 2014
Peggy Drexler says after all the celebrity divorces, it's tempting to ask the question. But there are still considerable benefits to getting hitched
updated 2:49 PM EDT, Fri August 29, 2014
The death of Douglas McAuthur McCain, the first American killed fighting for ISIS, highlights the pull of Syria's war for Western jihadists, writes Peter Bergen.
updated 6:42 PM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
Former ambassador to Syria Robert Ford says the West should be helping moderates in the Syrian armed opposition end the al-Assad regime and form a government to focus on driving ISIS out
updated 9:21 AM EDT, Wed August 27, 2014
Ruben Navarrette says a great country does not deport thousands of vulnerable, unaccompanied minors who fled in fear for their lives
updated 9:19 AM EDT, Wed August 27, 2014
Robert McIntyre says Congress is the culprit for letting Burger King pay lower taxes after merging with Tim Hortons.
updated 7:35 PM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
Wesley Clark says the U.S. can offer support to its Islamic friends in the region most threatened by ISIS, but it can't fight their war
updated 7:26 AM EDT, Wed August 27, 2014
Jeff Yang says the tech sector's diversity numbers are embarrassing and the big players need to do more.
updated 4:53 PM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
America's painful struggle with racism has often brought great satisfaction to the country's rivals, critics, and foes. The killing of Michael Brown and its tumultuous aftermath has been a bonanza.
updated 4:19 PM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
Ed Bark says in this Emmy year, broadcasters CBS, ABC and PBS can all say they matched or exceeded HBO. These days that's no small feat
updated 3:19 PM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
Rick Martin says the death of Robin Williams brought back memories of his own battle facing down depression as a young man
updated 11:58 AM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
David Perry asks: What's the best way for police officers to handle people with psychiatric disabilities?
updated 3:50 PM EDT, Mon August 25, 2014
Julian Zelizer says it's not crazy to think Mitt Romney would be able to end up at the top of the GOP ticket in 2016
updated 4:52 PM EDT, Mon August 25, 2014
Roxanne Jones and her girlfriends would cheer from the sidelines for the boys playing Little League. But they really wanted to play. Now Mo'ne Davis shows the world that girls really can throw.
updated 12:29 PM EDT, Mon August 25, 2014
Peter Bergen and Emily Schneider say a YouTube video apparently posted by ISIS seems to show that the group has a surveillance drone, highlighting a new reality: Terrorist groups have technology once only used by states
updated 5:04 PM EDT, Mon August 25, 2014
Kimberly Norwood is a black mom who lives in an affluent neighborhood not far from Ferguson, but she has the same fears for her children as people in that troubled town do
updated 5:45 PM EDT, Fri August 22, 2014
It apparently has worked for France, say Peter Bergen and Emily Schneider, but carries uncomfortable risks. When it comes to kidnappings, nations face grim options.
updated 1:27 PM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
John Bare says the Ice Bucket Challenge signals a new kind of activism and peer-to-peer fund-raising.
updated 8:31 AM EDT, Fri August 22, 2014
James Dawes says calling ISIS evil over and over again could very well make it harder to stop them.
updated 9:05 PM EDT, Sat August 23, 2014
As the inquiry into the shooting of Michael Brown continues, critics question the prosecutor's impartiality.
updated 6:47 PM EDT, Fri August 22, 2014
Newt Gingrich says it's troubling that a vicious group like ISIS can recruit so many young men from Britain.
updated 10:50 AM EDT, Thu August 21, 2014
David Weinberger says Twitter and other social networks have been vested with a responsibility, and a trust, they did not ask for.
updated 7:03 AM EDT, Fri August 22, 2014
John Inazu says the slogan "We are Ferguson" is meant to express empathy and solidarity. It's not true: Not all of us live in those circumstances. But we all made them.
updated 8:23 AM EDT, Fri August 22, 2014
Retired Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling says he learned that the territory ISIS wants to control is amazingly complex.
updated 3:51 PM EDT, Wed August 20, 2014
Cerue Garlo says Liberia is desperate for help amid a Ebola outbreak that has touched every aspect of life.
updated 1:42 PM EDT, Thu August 21, 2014
Eric Liu says Republicans who want to restrict voting may win now, but the party will suffer in the long term.
updated 11:38 AM EDT, Thu August 21, 2014
Jay Parini: Jesus, Pope and now researchers agree: Wealth decreases our ability to sympathize with the poor.
updated 8:00 AM EDT, Thu August 21, 2014
Judy Melinek offers a medical examiner's perspective on what happens when police kill people like Michael Brown.
updated 6:03 PM EDT, Tue August 19, 2014
It used to be billy clubs, fire hoses and snarling German shepherds. Now it's armored personnel carriers and flash-bang grenades, writes Kara Dansky.
updated 1:27 PM EDT, Wed August 20, 2014
Maria Haberfeld: People who are unfamiliar with police work can reasonably ask, why was an unarmed man shot so many times, and why was deadly force used at all?
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT