President Donald Trump said Tuesday that his administration has been tougher on Russia than anybody else.
“Probably nobody’s been tougher to Russia than Donald Trump,” Trump told a group of reporters gathered at the White House. The president also suggested the former communist nation is feeling the heat as the U.S. continues to mass export oil and gas.
“We’re now exporting oil and gas,” he said, adding: “This is not something that Russia wanted.” Trump’s comments come as relations between the U.S. and Russia continue to wilt, especially after Russian President Vladimir Putin expelled U.S. ambassadors from Moscow.
Trump did end his response to questions about Russia on a conciliatory note. “If we got along with Russia, that would be a good thing not a bad thing,” he said before calling people who disagree with that assessment “very stupid people.”
The president has slowly ratcheted up rhetoric against Moscow. Russia wouldn’t stand a chance in a Cold War-style nuclear arms race, he said in a March 21 phone call with Putin shortly after Putin won re-election.
The president tightened the screws on Putin. The White House recently leveled a series of sanctions against Russia and announced on March 26 the U.S. would expel 60 Russian diplomats — the largest number since the Cold War — in response to Moscow’s alleged nerve agent attack on a former U.K. spy.
Trump called the leaders of France, Germany and the U.K. to say the Russian leader sounded dangerous in a speech Trump watched and the four countries need to stick together, according to a White House official familiar with the calls.
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