Rep. Adam Kinzinger: Putin Is 'Pushing Us Out...Filling the Vacuum That We Have Left'

Susan Jones | September 30, 2015 | 10:40am EDT
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Russian President Vladimir Putin, center, meets with members of Russia's Security Consul outside Novo-Ogaryovo, Russia, Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2015. (Alexei Druzhinin, RIA-Novosti, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

( - Speaking on Wednesday shortly after Russia launched its first airstrikes in Syria in support of the Assad regime (and against U.S. interests), Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) said President Obama must "push back" as the Russians push us out.

"Vladimir Putin today is trying to rebuild the Soviet empire as best he can, and that's going to include a foothold in the Middle East," Kinzinger told Fox News.

"Basha al Assad in his location is very important to Russia having their naval base, now their military presence in the Middle East, and now being able from that to exert influence on Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran and everywere else.

"He (Putin) is in effect pushing us out, or actually just filling the vacuum that we have left. It is imperative for the president to push back on this..."

Kinzinger noted that Russia has not had much of a role in the Middle East since the end of the Cold War. But now, he added, "They're going to write the rules, if we allow them to do that."

Kinzinger also pointed to reports that Russia may be bombing the Syrian opposition that is standing up to the brutality of Assad.

"This is in no way good news, and I hope people go beyond just the one layer of, 'Oh, yeah, they're going to bomb ISIS, that's great,' and find out the real implications this has for our country. It is devastating."

Fox News analyst Ralph Peters, a retired Army lieutenant colonel, said by taking out Assad's opposition, the Russians are giving the U.S. a stark choice: Support ISIS or support Assad.

According to the Associated Press, Putin is portraying Wednesday's airstrikes in Syria as a pre-emptive attack against Islamic State militants who have take over large parts of Syria and Iraq.

"If they (militants) succeed in Syria, they will return to their home country, and they will come to Russia, too," Putin was quoted as saying in a televised speech.

State Department spokesman John Kirby told The Associated Press that a Russian official in Baghdad informed U.S. Embassy personnel on Wednesday that Russian military aircraft would shortly begin flying anti-ISIS missions over Syria. The Russian official also asked that U.S. aircraft avoid Syrian airspace during those missions Wednesday.

The US-led counter-ISIL coalition will continue to fly missions over Iraq and Syria, Kirby added.

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