President Donald Trump is set to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin for the first time on the sidelines of the G20 summit Friday, and in advance of this event his administration has moved to counter Russian interests.
While President Trump didn’t definitively agree Thursday with the assessment from the CIA, NSA, and FBI that Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential election, he and his administration have taken five aggressive steps against Russia.
Commitment to NATO’s defense agreement
As usual, Trump called for members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to meet their full financial obligations during a speech in Warsaw.
“As a result of this insistence, billions of dollars more have begun to pour into NATO. In fact, people are shocked. But billions and billions of dollars more are coming in from countries that, in my opinion, would not have been paying so quickly,” Trump said in the NATO-allied nation. “To those who would criticize our tough stance, I would point out that the United States has demonstrated not merely with words but with its actions that we stand firmly behind Article 5, the mutual defense commitment.”
Trump has previously stated his commitment to NATO’s mutual defense agreement, yet as recently as Thursday morning, The Washington Post was wondering, “Will he really commit to NATO once and for all?”
The sale of the Patriot missile system to Poland
Trump announced during his speech that Poland will acquire “from the United States the battle-tested Patriot air and missile defense system — the best anywhere in the world.”
The Patriot surface-to-air missile defense system has been continuously upgraded since its introduction in 1965 and protects against ballistic missiles and even drones.
Putin has previously said that he views the missile defense system’s presence in Eastern Europe as a “great danger.”
Urging Russia to end its “destabilizing activities in Ukraine and elsewhere”
President Trump came out strongly in his speech against Russia’s actions in Ukraine, the annexation of Crimea, and their support for the Syrian and Iranian regimes.
“We urge Russia to cease its destabilizing activities in Ukraine and elsewhere, and its support for hostile regimes — including Syria and Iran — and to instead join the community of responsible nations in our fight against common enemies and in defense of civilization itself,” Trump said.
The president made his remarks after he alluding to election meddling efforts by Russia.
“Today, the West is also confronted by the powers that seek to test our will, undermine our confidence, and challenge our interests,” Trump said. “To meet new forms of aggression, including propaganda, financial crimes, and cyberwarfare, we must adapt our alliance to compete effectively in new ways and on all new battlefields.”
Sale of liquid natural gas to European nations
Russia’s economy relies heavily on the exportation of liquid natural gas to Europe, and nations there are equally dependent on Russia’s energy production.
President Trump said at his joint press conference Thursday: “Let me be clear about one crucial point. The United States will never use energy to coerce your nations, and we cannot allow others to do so.”
These comments followed a meeting with 12 Central European and Baltic leaders at the Three Seas Conference. He then told throngs of Poles at a speech in Warsaw, “We are committed to securing your access to alternate sources of energy, so Poland and its neighbors are never again held hostage to a single supplier of energy.”
Poland received its first shipment of U.S. liquid natural gas last month, according to a report from CNBC.
Scolding Russia after North Korea’s latest missile test
North Korea test fired a new intercontinental ballistic missile Monday as tensions continue to increase between the hermit regime and the U.S.
Russia and China both opposed a U.N Security Council resolution Wednesday to condemn North Korea’s action and impose sanctions. U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley accused them both of “holding the hands” of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Later, when a Russian official questioned whether the missile was in fact an ICBM, Haley said, “If you see this as a threat, if you see this for what it is, which is North Korea showing its muscle, then you need to stand strong… If you choose not to, we will go our own path.”