President Donald Trump’s outgoing national security adviser said Tuesday that Russian President Vladimir Putin will pay a heavy price for aggressively attacking U.S.’ institutions.
The U.S. has consistently “failed to impose sufficient costs” on Russia in response to their “sophisticated” attacks, Gen. H.R. McMaster said at a dinner hosted by the Atlantic Council for the leaders of the three Baltic states. Moscow’s decision to use digital weapons to spread “propaganda” helped rally the U.S., he added.
“Russian aggression is strengthening our resolve and our confidence. We might all help Mr. Putin understand his grave error. We might show him the beaches of Normandy, where lingering craters and bullet holes demonstrate the West’s will to sacrifice to preserve our freedom,” McMaster said.
His comments came hours after Trump claimed “nobody’s been tougher to Russia than Donald Trump.” 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.
Trump has slowly 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.
McMaster also praised Trump during the dinner for ordering the removal of 60 Russian intelligence officers, a move which ultimately resulted in Russia following suit. Putin closed the U.S. Consulate in St. Petersburg in response to the move.
“This action will also help protect our democratic institutions and processes, as these Russian officers orchestrate Russia’s sustained campaign of propaganda, disinformation, and political subversion,” said McMaster, who will be replaced by former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton.
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