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Marco Rubio reacted to the escalation of tension between Turkey and Russia on “Happening Now,” saying that despite reservations, America’s first commitment should remain toward the NATO alliance.

Turkey on Tuesday shot down a Russian warplane after it said the jet violated Turkish airspace, a move Russian President Vladimir Putin immediately called “a stab in the back.”

Asked whether Turkey was still an ally to the U.S., Rubio answered that both countries are members of NATO.

“If we were not to come to Turkey’s defense and assistance in any instance, it would undermine the NATO alliance," he said.

“It’s important for us to be very clear, that we will respond and defend Turkey if they come under assault from the Russians, otherwise the entire NATO alliance comes into question."

While many have “deep concerns” about Turkey’s domestic politics, “we can’t decide that we’re not going to work on behalf of one of these countries,” added the GOP candidate.

“This is a critical moment,” he said. “Because if Russia believes that they can respond and retaliate against Turkey – because NATO’s not gonna do anything about it – what they are basically doing is making the argument that NATO is no longer viable, that it is a feckless alliance.”

Watch the interview above, including Rubio's response to some questions from viewers.

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