Transcript: NATO Ambassador Kay Bailey Hutchison on "Face the Nation," July 8, 2018


U.S. Ambassador to NATO Kay Bailey Hutchison appears on "Face the Nation" on July 8, 2018.

CBS News

The following is a transcript of the interview with Kay Bailey Hutchison, the U.S. ambassador to NATO, that aired Sunday, July 8, 2018, on "Face the Nation."  

MARGARET BRENNAN: And that was a memorable moment from last year's NATO summit. During President Trump's first trip abroad, he brushed past Montenegro's Prime Minister. The president will be center stage again this year as he ramps up pressure on NATO allies to spend more on their own defense. We go now to Brussels and the U.S. Ambassador to NATO, former Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison. Welcome to the program. Ambassador, how much of a threat is Russia to the military alliance?

AMBASSADOR KAY BAILEY HUTCHISON: Well thank you Margaret very much. We are seeing Russia with malign activities on so many fronts right now, especially the hybrid area where they are through social media sowing discontent and even false information to try to divide our allies and take them away from the West and toward some dissidents and then hopefully they think influenced by them. They're also doing things like the terrible attack, the nerve agent attack in Great Britain. They're supporting a Syrian dictator who is using chemical weapons on his own people to kill even children and it's just on and on and on. They're also in violation of the very important INF treaty with the United States. They are not supposed to be building ballistic missiles at an intermediate range but they are and we know they are. So there are so many areas where they are working against the interests of freedom and democracies and peace in the world. And it is a big- it's a big part of our deterrence effort to keep them from taking over sovereign nations as they did in the Ukraine when they took Crimea in 2014.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well on that point. President Trump has seemed to leave the door open to recognizing Russia's annexation of Crimea and some public statements last week on this program. Ambassador John Bolton said while that's not U.S. policy he said the president is open to changing that. Can you reassure our allies that the President won't agree to recognize Crimea as part of Russia when he meets privately with Vladimir Putin?

AMB. HUTCHISON: Well I think that our alliance is very solid and including all of the efforts that the United States is making to shore up the sovereignty of the Ukraine. The Ukraine people -they stood very tall in their- their really peaceful revolution is what it was at Maidan. They have stood strong for their sovereignty and their right of self-governance. And we are standing behind them on that. And there is no there's no light between any of our allies on that very important issue.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And the president it sounds like, you're saying won't change his position on that, but the president seems to be muddying the waters on this question of whether Vladimir Putin is a friend or foe. I mean just this week he called Vladimir Putin a fine man. Is that how you would describe Putin?  

AMB. HUTCHISON: Well I wouldn't, but I will say that despite how the many malign activities that Vladimir Putin has been doing just in the last few years, NATO talks to Russia. We have what's called a NATO Russia Council, where the ambassador from Russia meets with our NATO ambassadors. Many of the foreign leaders in our alliance meet with Putin, most certainly, the Europeans do. But the effort in our military does too as well. We have military to military talks with the Russian Chief of Defense but this is to de-conflict, it is not to allow escalation of hostilities. And also, I think the president will encourage Vladimir Putin to start changing their behavior to be - we'd like for Russia to be an ally a trading partner. But right now, we have sanctions against Russia because of their malign influence and the things they're doing that are very disruptive - trying to divide our alliance. So yes, we should be talking to Vladimir Putin and many of our allied nations do as well. But it is to try to bring them in the tent instead of - just constantly seeing them do these things that are attempting to disrupt us, but will not.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well Ambassador, we will be watching that meeting closely. Thank you for your time.

AMB. HUTCHISON: Thank you Margaret.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And we'll be back in a moment.