The Gateway Pundit spoke to Senator Rand Paul regarding his trip to Russia, how media hysteria impacted it, their promise to stay out of the midterms, and why it is so important that we keep communications open with another nuclear power.
The trip has caused uproar by hawkish partisans on both sides of the aisle who have decided that war would be better than diplomacy — but Senator Paul explained on Tuesday that the trip was a great success.
“I think it was a huge success. Our first day there we met with the Federation, which is the upper house of the Russian Parliament, and they agreed to continue our conversation by coming to Washington in November,” Senator Paul told TGP. “So, we believe that we will have members of the Federation and the Duma Foreign Relations Committee come continue dialogue.”
The only hitch in the visit, which would have huge potential for working towards peace, is that sanctions currently prevent several members of both committees from entering the United States. Senator Paul explained that this is something he hopes to try and remedy.
“One of the things we talked about was whether or not we could try to get to where our sanctions don’t prevent their members from coming to the United States,” he said. “Both the chairman of the Federation and Duma Foreign Relations Committees are banned from coming to the US.”
The Russian lawmakers agreed to send members who are not banned, though they and Senator Paul all hope the sanctions preventing travel can be lifted. Senator Paul explained that if removing those sanctions is unsuccessful, there is also potential for a meeting in a neutral country such as Switzerland in the Spring.
“I think this is a big breakthrough because both Russia and the United States possess 90% of the nuclear arms in the world. I think it’s a mistake for us not to continue the dialogue,” Senator Paul said.
Senator Paul and his team also met with Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the Soviet Union, who famously negotiated nuclear weapon reductions with President Ronald Reagan.
“We were excited to meet with Gorbachev. I think Reagan and Gorbachev’s meetings in the 80s were incredibly important, and I think it’s important for us to remember that despite our differences, controversies and ongoing issues — dialogue is incredibly important,” Senator Paul said.
Much like Reagan, both Senator Paul and President Trump understand that diplomacy is a strength.
Senator Paul explained that the US and Russia have several treaties which will expire under President Trump’s administration, one of which is the New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty). The treaty reduces the number of nuclear missile launchers. In 2017, during President Trump’s first call with Putin, the Russian president reportedly inquired about extending New START.
“I think we have to talk about either renewing that treaty or at least having discussions leading up to that,” Senator Paul told TGP.
When asked if the extremely hostile rhetoric from our media regarding Russia impacted his trip, Senator Paul explained that the Russian lawmakers still deny election meddling — but promised him that they will not involve themselves in 2018.
“We talked about how our country’s politics are consumed by election meddling. They basically responded the same way that Putin has responded, saying ‘we didn’t do it, we aren’t doing it in 2018.’ I think that’s some progress, that they’re saying they aren’t going to be involved in 2018,” Senator Paul said. “Now, like anything else that someone tells you, we need to take everything with a grain of salt. But, what we do to move forward is try to impress upon Russia that those who want engagement, better trade and better interaction between our countries — that any kind of hacking into emails or meddling would backfire in the sense that it would not be in Russia’s best interest. That’s the way countries respond, they make their decisions based on what they think is in their best interest,” Senator Paul said.
Senator Paul stated that Russia has seen what has happened in response to 2016 and he believes they understand that getting involved in 2018 would not be to their advantage. He said that we need to be prepared to move beyond it all and remove some of the harsher sanctions if they keep their word.
“The stick has been the sanctions, but the carrot needs to be resolving some of these sanctions. One of the sanctions that we would like to see removed as soon as possible is the sanction on their legislators that prevents them from travelling to the US. I think that would be a small step forward. It wouldn’t be a removal of all the sanctions, but it would be an improvement in our relations,” he added.
Asked if he worked with the administration on the trip, Senator Paul explained that they met with President Trump several times, including in the White House between the Helsinki meeting and their own trip to Russia. He also noted that President Trump sent a letter that they hand-carried to the Kremlin.
It is important to note that while partisans have accused the senator of planning the trip to take heat off of President Trump after his meeting with Putin, Senator Paul’s office had actually been planning this trip for roughly six months.
“I think President Trump and I do share the understanding that we need to continue the dialogue with what could be the other main nuclear power in the world,” Senator Paul said. “There are possibilities for the sharing of information to prevent terrorist attacks. You know, the Russians gave us information on the Boston bombers. Our country failed to act, but I think Russia did try to help us prevent the Boston Marathon bombing. Likewise, this year, we shared information that helped to prevent a terrorist bombing in St. Petersburg.”
“There are all kinds of reasons why we set dialogue and I think the partisan hysteria in our country, the Trump Derangement Syndrome, has been almost to where every Democrat in the whole country wants no dialogue with Russia. I think that’s a big mistake. I’m hoping that my visit to Russia, and maybe the visit by Russian legislators, will help to get this beyond partisan politics and back into the realpolitik of why we should have communications even with people that we have disagreements with.”