Sen. Tom Cotton (R., Ark.) on Monday condemned Russian President Vladimir Putin as an "adversary" following his Helsinki summit with President Donald Trump, saying that the United Sates should continue on a strategic offensive against Russia.
Trump received backlash following the summit after several Republicans and Democrats in Congress felt that he missed the opportunity to firmly hold Putin accountable for meddling in the 2016 election and delivering a strong warning for future elections.
"U.S.–Russia relations remain at a historic low for one simple reason: Vladimir Putin is a committed adversary of the United States," Cotton said. "In the last few years alone, Russia meddled in our presidential campaign, violated arms-control treaties with the United States, invaded Ukraine, assassinated political opponents in the United Kingdom, made common cause with Iran in propping up Bashar al-Assad’s outlaw regime in Syria, and cheated not only in the Olympics, but even in the Paralympics. These are not the actions of a friend, an ally, or merely a nation with aligned interests."
"Until Russian behavior changes, our policy should not change. The United States should stay on the strategic offensive against Russia by maintaining sanctions, rebuilding our military, modernizing our nuclear forces, expanding missile defenses, sending more weapons to our allies, and producing more oil and gas. Strength is the one language for which Vladimir Putin needs no interpreter," Cotton continued.
Top U.S. intelligence officials have concluded that Russia interfered in the 2016 election to benefit Trump's presidential campaign, leading to the Justice Department indicting 12 Russian government agents last Friday for hacking the Democratic Party.
This is not the first time Cotton has slammed Putin for his actions against his own people. Earlier this year, he said the Russian president is afraid of his own people and that his regime is oppressive and corrupt.
"Vladimir Putin has once again thrown Alexei Navalny in jail because he is afraid of his own people—and what they would do if they were free," Cotton said in a statement. "Every time he imprisons an opposition leader, it only shows the world just how corrupt and oppressive his regime truly is."