It's important to deal with Russia from a position of strength, not the weakness that was the hallmark of the Obama administration, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce said Tuesday.
"I think one of the things I would like to see a better relationship with Russia, but to do it you've got to be dealing with Russia from a position of strength," the California Republican told Fox News' "America's Newsroom" program.
"I think what we've seen from the Obama administration was weakness."
For example, when Russia invaded Ukraine, Congress passed legislation overwhelmingly directing the administration to give anti-tank weapons, but President Barack Obama vetoed the measure, said Royce.
Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson argued during his confirmation for dealing with Russia from a position of strength, said Royce, and he thinks with incoming President-elect Donald Trump, the nation will see an "outreach for a better relationship but one that comes from strength."
In an article with The Times of London, Trump commented that there could be "a few good deals" reached with Russia, including on nuclear weapons, and Royce said he believes that means if a deal can be reached pulling its forces from eastern Ukraine, "a lot is on the table in terms of a warmer relationship with Moscow."
However, the United State is missing leverage that's needed to make that happen, said Royce.
In the past, during President Ronald Reagan's administration, Radio Free Europe broadcasts against Russia were effective, but now, the United States does not have a surrogate-free radio system or seven social media abilities to effectively counter Russian President Vladimir Putin, said Royce.
However, Putin has the RT network, which broadcasts worldwide.
"Putting the anti-tank weapons into eastern Ukraine would have given us leverage," said Royce.
"That was blocked by President Obama. But since that's been raised by our incoming secretary of state, since the argument is being made that we'll come back in with leverage, now would be the time for Putin to come to the table."
Meanwhile, NATO is critical to the United States' defense and security, said Royce, but needs reconstructed so more of the costs are shared by the nation's European allies, as Trump has sought.
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