Sen. Marco Rubio on Friday praised Ukrainians for standing up to the Russian invasion, saying they were a reminder of the importance of fighting for freedom.
It comes as video emerged of citizens being handed rifles ready to fight invading troops and individual moments of bravery – such as a lone protester standing in front of a military convoy – go viral.
Rubio appeared at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Florida, where he railed against cancel culture and the imposition of masks.
But he used the argument to feed red meat to his Trumpy audience before linking struggles at home with struggles overseas.
‘No matter where you stand on this Ukraine-Russia situation – what we should have done beforehand, what we should do now – the one thing I think everyone can agree upon, is that the people of Ukraine are inspiring to the world,’ he said.
‘You have 70-something-year-old men, elderly women, younger children taking up arms prepared to sacrifice everything.’
Ukrainian officials say they have given out 10,000 rifles to citizens ready to defend their country.
And reports have surfaced that the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense is asking residents to start making Molotov cocktails.
Sen. Marco Rubio said the people of Ukraine were an inspiration in the way they were standing up to Russia and fighting back against invading forces
Ukrainian servicemen ride on tanks towards the front line with Russian forces in the Lugansk region of Ukraine on February 25, 2022. – Ukrainian forces fought off Russian troops in the capital Kyiv on the second day of a conflict that has claimed dozens of lives
A brave Ukrainian citizen has been filmed apparently trying to stop a convoy of Russian Tigr-M fighting vehicles – similar to American Humvees – moving along a highway close to Crimea in scenes reminiscent of Tiananmen Square’s ‘tank man’
Rubio also told the story of the 13 border guards defending Snake Island against the Russian navy.
They were killed after using choice language to tell a Russian vessel they would not be surrendering.
Other stories of defiance went viral, such as the moment a Ukrainian woman sang the national anthem while clearing rubble from her bomb-stricken home.
Oksana Gulenko’s home was among the 33 civilian sites bombed by Russia in its assault on Ukraine during the past 24 hours.
And video emerged of a man standing up to Putin’s troops by trying to block a Russian military convoy – in scenes reminiscent of Tiananmen Square’s ‘tank man’ blocking Chinese forces in 1989.
The footage, thought to have been filmed in the south of the country close to Crimea, emerged as Russia’s military bared down on Kyiv today in an apparent bid to seize the capital and ‘decapitate’ the government in the hopes of bringing a swift victory.
‘These are people that are basically saying we refuse to be Putin’s slaves,’ he said.
‘We refuse to live under tyranny, we’re prepared to give our life and die.
‘It reminds us of two things: How precious freedom and liberty are, how quickly it can be lost.
‘And the second thing it should remind us is that the reason why we’ve had freedom and we’ve had liberty is because people at one point were willing to do that for our country here.’
By tying the Russian invasion to America’s history of freedom he managed to sidestep the divisions facing the Republican party.
Pictured: A resident of the apartment block tips debris out of the window while clearing their home after it was devastated by a bomb blast
Ukrainians are seen hiding in a Kyiv bomb shelter equipped with AK-47 rifles as Russian troops move into the outskirts
Russian armor is now advancing on Kyiv from the north and east, with US intelligence saying the plan is to besiege the city, capture an airport, and fly in paratroopers who would then attack the capital. The aim would be to capture the government and force them to sign a peace treaty handing control of the country back to Russia or a Russian puppet
Speakers at CPAC have been outspoken in their attacks on President Joe Biden, claiming Putin invaded because he sees a weak administration that left Afghanistan in a chaotic withdrawal.
But other figures, such as House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy or members of its foreign policy establishment, have focused on Putin as the villain.
Rubio instead tied Putin’s actions to what he saw as creeping tyranny in the U.S.
‘There are people that may not agree with us on what the tax rate should be. There are people that may not agree with us on how much regulation there should be in government,’ he said.
‘There are people that may not agree with us on a variety of issues. There are people that perhaps have never voted the same way any of you have in a presidential race.
‘They’re really angry, and they’re getting rid of school board members because they’re coming for their kids and they’re getting rid of local government officials because they’re coming for their business.
‘And they’ll get rid of federal leaders that are coming for their freedom.’