President Joe Biden must be succinct and forceful with Russian President Vladimir Putin in their virtual meeting Tuesday, Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Bob Menendez, D-N.J., said Monday.
Biden just has to tell Putin, according to Rubio, "Not to invade Ukraine."
"Someone like Putin, I think it's very important to know what the costs are of that sort of invasion as he recalculates the benefits and weighs the benefits against it," Rubio told reporters Monday night.
Rubio warned Putin is engaging in "hybrid warfare" with disinformation to create a "pretext for taking military action" with Ukraine as Russia builds up its border forces amid its warnings against adding Ukraine to the NATO alliance that Russia has never been invited to.
"We're getting a very clear picture in real time of what this hybrid warfare looks like," Rubio said, warning Biden needs to lay out strong sanctions and warnings to keep Russian aggression at bay.
"This is a potential crisis for NATO if an invasion were to happen," Rubio continued. "It would be a real test of the alliance, even though Ukraine is not a member. We have a number of alliance members who would react real forcefully, particularly in central Europe that see Russia as a very real and immediate danger."
Menendez said Putin is acting under the false premise former President Barack Obama's permitted Russia to take Crimea years ago.
"'I did this to Crimea' it didn't cost me anything,'" Menendez said, outlining Putin's thoughts on Ukraine.
"No, it'll cost you," Menendez promised. "It'll cost you big time."
The key to keeping Putin in line has been and always will be money, Menendez concluded, pointing to aggressive sanctions to deter a Ukraine invasion.
"I hope the president sends a clear and unequivocal message," Menendez said. "The one thing Putin cares about is money and the sources of those monies and how we will affect him directly. And he only understands strength at the end of that day.
"The consequences to Putin and his cronies is severe, severe to the extent that whatever riches he has will largely be unaccessible – unattainable, too.
"That's the strongest message you can send to someone that otherwise doesn't care."
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