Tags: Rob Portman | Trump | Tough | Russia

Sen. Rob Portman Calls for Trump to Take Tough Line on Russia

(MSNBC/"Morning Joe")

By    |   Friday, 09 Dec 2016 03:10 PM

The United States has not played a leadership role regarding Russia's aggression on the eastern border of Ukraine, and "the consequences have been terrible," Sen Rob Portman, who co-wrote a bipartisan letter this week to the incoming Trump administration calling for a more tough line the Communist nation.

"A bunch of us sent a letter to the new administration regarding Ukraine and regarding Russia's activity on the eastern border of Ukraine and Crimea," the Ohio Republican told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program.

"This is another example where America, I think, has not played the leadership role that we have traditionally played."

As a result, the "the consequences have been terrible not just for Ukraine, but for other countries watching, particularly in eastern Europe, and wondering, where is NATO? Where is America? I think we need to stand up and be counted," Portman said.

In the letter, led by Portman and Illinois Democratic Sen. Richard Durbin, and signed by 12 Republicans and 15 Democrats, the senators called on the United States "to increase political, economic and military support for Ukraine."

Portman and Durban chair the Senate Ukraine Caucus.

The senators also said in the letter, obtained in advance by Reuters, they believe Russia's move to annex Crimea should be rejected, and the United States should not lift its sanctions against Russia imposed over eastern Ukraine.

The Obama administration has turned a blind eye on other parts of the world, Portman said Monday, including in Syria, the Middle East, and more.

"Think of the South China Sea, where on a coral reef we now have an air force base," said Portman, and other countries want to know why that can happen.

"It's [also] the Middle East, Syria, what's going on today, certainly, in Iraq," he continued. "I don't know what the costs are ultimately."

However, if there is not some kind of withdrawal from Iraq that keeps some special forces there, US troops will be likely to to have to return to the war-torn country, said Portman.

"There are troops on the ground, and there may have to be more," the senator said.

Trump has spoken with Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko, said Portman, and has agreed to meet in person with him.

"He's learning more about some parts of the world like that, where the Obama administration philosophy, which as you recall, famously, early on, a staffer said leading from behind has not made the world safer but more dangerous and volatile," said the senator.

Portman said he supports a call from his colleagues to investigate whether Russia played any role interfering with the 2016 election.

"You may know that in the defense bill that was just passed yesterday in the Senate, has already passed the House, now going to the president, there's language regarding disinformation campaigns and specifically reorganizing the U.S. government so we can better respond to that," Portman said.

"Right now, other than Radio Free Europe, we really don't have much of an effort to try to counteract what's going on around the world."

The government also needs to be more responsive to the use of disinformation and propaganda overseas and online, where "we're not sophisticated, and other countries are."

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The United States has not played a leadership role regarding Russia's aggression on the eastern border of Ukraine, and "the consequences have been terrible," Sen Rob Portman...
Rob Portman, Trump, Tough, Russia
Friday, 09 Dec 2016 03:10 PM
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