Russian President Vladimir Putin "blatantly lied" when he said the troops on the ground in Crimea are not Russian forces, and he lies on a "regular and consistent basis," Sen. Marco Rubio said.
There should be "no further illusions about who exactly we're dealing with. Vladimir Putin in his press conference last night blatantly lied," the Florida Republican and member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee told CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360"
"He's making these claims that the troops that are on the ground in Crimea are actually native self-defense forces. But we know that not to be the case. I think it's important to recognize we are dealing with an individual who lies on a regular and consistent basis."
The comments are more personal than remarks he made Sunday
when he told NBC's "Meet the Press" that the Putin regime is "a government of liars."
Rubio has been outspoken this week about the need for Congress to present a united front on the issue and said in a commentary he co-wrote for CNN
on Tuesday that it is important for the House and Senate to work together to "send a strong and unified message that Russia's invasion of Ukraine is unacceptable."
"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," Rubio wrote in the article with Arkansas GOP Rep. Tom Cotton, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
"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."
Rubio has said he does not believe the United States should send military force to stop the Russian invasion, but has instead called for the Obama administration to help strengthen Kiev's government while reinvigorating NATO alliances.
He said he is also supportive of Secretary of State John Kerry's call to isolate Russia through trade and other sanctions.
"I've been quite pleased so far with the [Obama administration's] reaction to this," Rubio told CNN. "I just think we need to keep that momentum going."
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