Once again President Trump appears to be hedging on new sanctions against Russia, a day after his Ambassador to the United Nations said they would be announced today.
Trump has a history of going easy on Russia, but in early April he finally did take serious action in the wake of the murder of a Russian businessman in London, which is suspected to have been an assassination carried out using a Russian-made nerve agent.
After the U.S., the U.K. and France bombed Syria on Saturday in response to an alleged regime chemical weapons attack on the Eastern Ghouta suburb of Damascus, U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley said on Sunday on CBS’s Face The Nation that additional sanctions against Russia would be announced today by the U.S. Treasury Department as punishment for Russia’s support of the Syrian regime.
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Haley said there would be financial sanctions against Russian companies that supplied Syria’s President Bashar Assad with the resources and equipment used for chemical weapons.
“So I think everyone is going to be feeling it at this point,” she said on Face The Nation. “I think everyone knows that we sent a strong message, and our hope is that they listen to us.”
Instead, this morning it became clear the Trump administration is suddenly hedging on Haley’s promise.
“We are considering additional sanctions on Russia,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders today, “and a decision will be made in the near future.”
Whether or not Trump was rethinking the additional sanctions after an angry reaction over the weekend from Russian President Vladimir Putin is unclear.
Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. threatened that the bombings would bring “consequences” and a high ranking Russian politician compared Trump to Adolph Hitler.
In an official statement, the Kremlin said the bombings would “have a destructive effect on the entire system of international relations.”
This is just plain old stupid. When it comes to imposing tough sanctions on Russia, the Trump team continues to show weakness.
White House walks back Haley announcement on Russian sanctions for chemical attack https://t.co/Rlx6WBPUYU
— Donna Brazile (@donnabrazile) April 16, 2018
Trump has been hesitant in the past to act against Russia and has openly praised Russian dictator Vladimir Putin, but with investigations into Trump campaign collusion with the Russians intensifying with each passing day, the president is slowly being forced to take a harder line.
Whether the hesitancy to bring new economic sanctions today is because of the Russian anger, Trump pulling back from attacking Putin or other factors is unclear, but once again the Trump team is sending mixed signals about what it will do and when it will do it.