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Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., argued on Sunday that the “likeliest thing you are going to see” from Russian President Vladimir Putin is his trying to use chemical or biological weapons “in a way that makes it look like someone else did it.”
He argued that he made that prediction based on Putin’s history and pointed to an example.
“When chemical weapons were deployed in Syria, clearly [Syrian tyrant Bashar al-Assad] Assad was behind it, but he [Putin] spent weeks sort of building up this notion that somehow the rebels and the opposition to Assad were the ones who were going to use chemical weapons and did,” Rubio told host Maria Bartiromo during an exclusive interview on “Sunday Morning Futures.”
In fact, in 2015, Putin called allegations that the Syrian president attacked rebel forces with chemical weapons “ludicrous.”
“And so my feeling is that that’s exactly the kind of thing he [Putin] would try to do here,” Rubio said. “I don’t think that he would himself admit that he is using these chemical weapons, I think that he would want to blame that on Ukraine or NATO and say that it was them who did it.”
The vice chairman of the Select Committee on Intelligence offered the insight during an exclusive interview on “Sunday Morning Futures,” three days after President Biden in Brussels said that the U.S. will “respond” if Putin used chemical weapons, and that “the nature of the response would depend on the nature of the use.”
Rubio said “we should not be in a position of ruling out what we are going to do,” given “we don’t know exactly how this is going to play out and who it’s going to impact.”
“It’s possible that these kinds of attacks could very well have a direct impact on a NATO country or American personnel in the region and then the response will be very clear,” he told Bartiromo.
Rubio went on to say that the U.S. would “have to go after whoever it is did that or where they did it from.”
The Florida senator also warned of potential cyberattacks.
He argued that Putin’s “military today is stuck in a quagmire” and are “stalled” as the war between Russia and Ukraine continues into its second month.
Rubio noted that the only options Putin has to escalate include either chemical and biological attacks or through a cyberattack against one of America’s companies.
“In essence he’ll have strike options before him and they’ll say, ‘Look we have access to these companies, these industries,” he told Bartiromo. “Obviously, the ones I’d keep an eye on are telecommunications, and banking and energy, oil and gas companies, because those are the ones that would most hurt the country. That would be his equivalent of sanctions against the U.S. economy.”
Biden said last week that Russia is “exploring options” to target the U.S. and its allies through cyberattacks as tensions with Moscow remain precarious.
“The more Putin’s back is against the wall, the greater the severity of the tactics he may employ,” the president said Monday. “One of the tools he’s most likely to use in my view, in our view, is cyberattacks.”
“The magnitude of Russia’s cyber capacity is fairly consequential, and it’s coming,” he added.
Under the 1949 North Atlantic Treaty, also known as the Washington Treaty, an attack on one member of the 30-nation alliance will be viewed as attack on all allied nations – a concept that applies to cyberwarfare.
But Biden’s national security advisor Jake Sullivan said last week that while a Russia-based cyberattack could prompt a NATO-wide reaction, it does not necessarily mean a military response will be activated.
Fox News’ Caitlin McFall contributed to this report.