President Trump brought up one of the bloodiest clashes between Russian and American forces in modern history Wednesday when peppered by the White House press corps over having a soft stance toward Putin and Russia.
Trump came under immense pressure to clarify his stance on Russian meddling and U.S. intelligence reports after a high-stakes summit with Putin on Monday in Helenski, Finland.
Trump spoke briefly on the topic at the White House after reporters shouted questions at him. One reporter asked if “Russia still targeting the U.S.” Trump mouthed the word, “No.”
Another reporter asked the president to clarify his stance on Russia.
“We’re doing very well,” Trump said. “Probably as well as anybody has ever done with Russia. And there’s been no president ever as tough as I have been on Russia.”
Trump backed up the claim by bringing up the strict sanctions his administration has placed on the country and noting that he has expelled multiple Russian diplomats and closed Russian embassies in the United States.
Trump then brought up a recent bloody example of how harsh he has been on Russia: “Look at — unfortunately — at what happened in Syria recently. And I think President Putin knows that better than anybody— certainly a lot better than the media. He understands it, and he’s not happy about it, and he shouldn’t be happy about it because there’s never been a president as tough on Russia as I have been.”
Trump was referring to American forces in Syria killing hundreds of Russian soldiers when they advanced on their position earlier in 2018. Multiple U.S. generals have confirmed that U.S. forces engaged Russian forces in the bloody battle. According to the War Zone:
“The skirmish occurred on Feb. 7, 2018 when forces aligned with Syria’s dictator Bashar Al Assad, backed by Russian mercenaries from a shadowy company called Wagner, which are possibly under the direct control of the Kremlin, launched an attack on U.S. forces and members of the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, a predominately Kurdish group, in eastern Syria. The opposing force consisted of tanks and heavy artillery.
After a massive American counter-attack involving air and artillery strikes beat back the opposing troops, reports emerged afterwards suggesting that as many as 200 Russians had died in the engagement