Responding To Democrats, Johnson Says He’s Been Tough On Russia

Johnson Says US Needs 'To Approach Russia From A Position Of Real Strength And Resolve'

Sen. Ron Johnson
Gage Skidmore (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Wisconsin Republican Sen. Ron Johnson is responding to Democrats saying the Republican lawmaker has been too soft on Russia.

The Democratic Party of Wisconsin said it wants to know more about a trip Johnson and other Republican senators took to Russia this month. After the trip, DPW said Johnson didn’t seem to be taking the possibility of Russian meddling in the 2016 election seriously enough.

But Johnson told reporters Monday in Milwaukee that the Democrats are wrong.

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“I’ve been incredibly tough on Russia. But I also recognize the fact that they have 7,000 nuclear weapons. I would rather have a better relationship with Russia than a worse relationship, and that only comes through dialogue,” he said.

Johnson answered questions about Russian election meddling after meeting with Wisconsin business executives to hear how their companies are being affected by the United States trade war with China. The topic turned to Russia after Johnson responded to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s assertion that Russia “never interfered” in the 2016 election during a summit in Helsinki with Putin and President Donald Trump.

Johnson said Putin is “completely wrong” when he says Russia did not interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, adding that U.S. intelligence agencies have “documented evidence” of Russia’s interference and called it “serious” and “unacceptable.”

In a statement released by Johnson Monday afternoon, the senator said the bad relationship between the U.S. and Russia is the fault of Russia.

“Our deteriorating relationship with Russia has but one cause: Russia’s bad behavior. The list is long: the invasion of Georgia and eastern Ukraine, the illegal ‘annexation’ of Crimea, political assassinations, the downing of MH17, Russia’s complicity in the slaughter in Syria, and Russian meddling in our elections and the politics of other nations, to name just a few. As much as I would prefer a better relationship with Russia, it can only happen as the result of improved Russian behavior. U.S. foreign policy should be uniformly directed to achieve that objective. I urge President Trump to forcefully and repeatedly demand that the Putin regime dramatically improve its behavior.”

U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Janesville, also spoke out against Russian interference in the 2016 election stating, “There is no question that Russia interfered in our election and continues attempts to undermine democracy here and around the world.”

The written statement went on to say, “The president must appreciate that Russia is not our ally. There is no moral equivalence between the United States and Russia, which remains hostile to our most basic values and ideals. The United States must be focused on holding Russia accountable and putting an end to its vile attacks on democracy.”

Democratic U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin took to Twitter to address Trump’s trip to Russia and subsequent meeting with Putin.

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