ORLANDO, Fla. – Sen. Marco Rubio, in an interview with Fox News Digital Friday, said Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “leverage over the world” is energy, and called on the Biden administration to “diminish” that power by lifting restrictions on U.S. energy production.
During an interview with Fox News Digital on the sidelines of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) on Friday, Rubio, R-Fla., said he wished the Biden administration had been “more proactive” in its response to the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.
“It seems like we’re just reacting to everything that’s happening,” Rubio told Fox News Digital. “I don’t understand – we know that Putin’s top leverage over the world is energy, particularly in Europe, where 50% of their natural gas is coming from Russia.”
“Why doesn’t the United States announce, you know what? We’re going to stop all these crazy restrictions on oil and natural gas and offer that to the world to, you know, diminish Putin’s leverage over Europe, but often over us because of the oil prices are about to skyrocket,” Rubio said.
President Biden, on Thursday, announced additional sanctions on Russia over its multi-front war on Ukraine, but stopped short of sanctioning Putin himself, and did not announce a ban on Russia from the SWIFT banking system, saying Europe is not on board with such a move.
Biden said the sanctions, in coordination with a coalition of other nations, would target more major Russian banks, including VTB, Sberbank, Bank Otkritie, Sovcombank OJSC and Novikombank. The sanctions will make it harder for Russia to do business in dollars, euros, pounds and yen, and there will be “new limitations” on what can be exported to Russia, he said.
The sanctions will also target Russia elites: Sergei Ivanov and his son Sergei, Andrey Patrushev and his son Nikolai, Igor Sechin and his son Ivan, Andrey Puchkov, Yuriy Solviev and two real estate companies he owns, Galina Ulyutina, and Alexander Vedyakhin, the U.S. said.
The sanctions will also limit the borrowing opportunities for 13 Russian entities and enterprises, according to the U.S.: Sberbank, AlfaBank, Credit Bank of Moscow, Gazprombank, Russian Agricultural Bank, Gazprom, Gazprom Neft, Transneft, Rostelecom, RusHydro, Alrosa, Sovcomflot, and Russian Railways.
“I think all the sanctions will hurt – but it won’t stop him,” Rubio said of Putin. “They won’t collapse this regime, but they’re a consequence of what he did, and that’s a consequence that other nations will have to wait before they make a decision to act.”
Rubio, though said one of the “most important things” the United States can do is to ensure that the Ukrainian government is recognized.
“The Ukrainians, what you have seen already in the first 48 hours, they’re not just going to roll over and let these guys in,” Rubio said. “I mean, the invasion part is hard, but it’s going to be the easiest part for the Russians.”
“The hardest part is going to be trying to occupy that country where you’re going to have millions of people that don’t want you there, have combat experience and are willing to die fighting,” he continued. “So it’s going to be a very painful experience for him, and we should help the Ukrainian people to the extent we can to help them help themselves. And so that’s that’s what I hope we’ll do.”
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