US Should Have Responded with ‘Proportional Show of Force’ to Russia Over Crimea, Rex Tillerson Testifies

BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Rex Tillerson, President-elect Donald Trump’s pick to be the next U.S. Secretary of State, said Wednesday at his Senate confirmation hearing that Russia’s invasion of Crimea was illegal and that the United States should have responded with “a proportional show of force.”

Tillerson said the “absence of a firm and forceful response to Crimea was judged by Russia to be weak” and paved the way for its later invasion of Ukraine.

Asked what he would have done in response at the time, Tillerson said he would have recommended the United States help Ukraine defend itself by providing it with weapons and intelligence, actions the Obama administrations was reluctant to take.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, asked Tillerson whether Russian President Vladimir Putin should be considered a war crime in wake of the bombing campaign his military has conducted in the Sryian city of Aleppo. Tillerson said, “I would not use that term.”

Tillerson also said he did not have enough information to validate claims that Putin orders the murder of his political enemies. “I would have to have more information,” he told Rubio.

Tillerson appeared to embrace current U.S. sanctions on Russia, saying, they “are a powerful tool and an important tool in terms of deterring additional action once actors have acted. … We’re going to get the strongest reaction on sanctions from the United States.

You can watch those hearings live here.

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