Sen. Rubio Warns of 'Potential for Miscalculation and Escalation' and 'Cyber Warfare'

Susan Jones | February 15, 2022 | 5:03am EST
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National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan departs the U.S. Capitol on Feb. 14, 2022 after briefing senators on Russia and Ukraine. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)
National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan departs the U.S. Capitol on Feb. 14, 2022 after briefing senators on Russia and Ukraine. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

( - A Russian invasion of Ukraine would be "deeply problematic," but beyond that lies the risk of "miscalculation and escalation," even the potential for "cyber warfare," Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) warned on Monday.

Rubio raised three serious concerns in an interview with Fox News after he and other senators received a closed-door briefing from National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan.

"There's the invasion of Ukraine, which would be problem -- deeply problematic, because it would be returning to a world in which powerful countries can just take over their neighbors," Rubio said.

I mean, that's the claim Russia makes about Eastern Europe. And that's ultimately the claim that China is making about Asia, that all these states are supposed to be vassal states that are tributary states to them. So that would be a big development.

But the second thing to keep in mind in all this is the potential for miscalculation and escalation. You have got the largest Russian military operations going on, exercises, in 35 or 40 years. You have got NATO countries on a heightened level of military readiness, and they're right close to each other.

And so there's always that potential. We have already seen some pretty aggressive Russian actions in terms of navigating close to ships and things of this nature and some other reporting, including the Brits.

So, there's a lot to be concerned about, and then the notion of cyber warfare. If Putin launches cyber warfare, we have never had a cyber-war. We don't know how quickly that escalates, what that can become. So there's a lot to worry about here in terms of this thing escalating beyond Ukraine.

Fox News's Bret Baier asked Rubio if Americans should be concerned about "cyber retaliation" from Russia:

"I mean, I think cyber vulnerabilities is something people are aware of. We have seen it because of cyber-crime. We have seen it because of ransomware," Rubio responded.

And so there's always the concern that a nation-state with advanced cyber capabilities, a Russia today, a China tomorrow, could launch some attacks. The problem with cyber is, these are not precise weapons. They're blunt instruments. And, sometimes, when you cyberattack a system, you think the outcome and the impact is going to be one thing, and it turns out to be something far more serious.

So, then the other country has to respond, and you start escalating. No one's ever conducted this cyber warfare before. There's not really a doctrine or rules of the road or anything that govern it.

So I think we have to have two goals in mind. There has to be real consequences for an invasion of Ukraine. And, at the same time, we have to ensure that we do not allow this to escalate beyond Ukraine into something broader.

Rubio said "time will tell" about how well the Biden administration has handled the Russia-Ukraine situation.

"Look, if there's not an invasion, and Putin is dissuaded from invading, then that would be a great outcome," Rubio said. "If it doesn't happen that way, then people have to have a different opinion about it."

He said "political accountability" will come later on, "if mistakes were made."

Rubio said he agrees with the Biden administration's assurances that U.S. troops will not fight in Ukraine.

My view of it is that, when something this big on -- that involves global and national security is engaged, I think the political accountability is going to come later if mistakes were made.

"But there has to be real consequences for an invasion. But we also have to make sure we manage this very carefully, so it doesn't escalate into something far more dangerous and potentially catastrophic. We don't want to see that."

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