President Donald Trump’s administration has maintained an Obama-era approach to countering aggression from Moscow while Trump was dismissing Russian meddling in the election and was saying nice things about Putin, The Hill reports.
The administration approved the largest commercial sale of lethal defensive weapons to Ukraine since 2014, implemented sanctions targeting people in Russia for human rights abuses, increased the budget for the European Deterrence Initiative, an effort begun under former President Obama to bolster allies’ defenses in response to Russian aggression, deployed U.S. soldiers to Poland as part of a majority-U.S. NATO task force and it is poised to announce more sanctions against Russia.
The approach is “mainstream” even for some Obama officials.
“The policy has been [in] continuity with the Obama administration post-2014, after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. I think the actual policies on the ground have been pretty good,” said Daniel Fried, who under Obama served as the State Department’s sanctions coordinator and worked as a senior official on Russia issues during the Bush administration.
Yet, those policies have been obscured by Trump’s warm rhetoric toward the Kremlin. Officials dismiss the notion that there is inconsistency between Trump’s attitude toward Russia and the administration’s policies. Administration official told The Hill that they do have two-pronged approach.
‘’We want to find areas of cooperation with them but at the same time we’re not just going to stand by idly and let them run over us,’’ the official said.
Even though Trump promised warmer relationship, U.S.-Russia relations have remained sour. According to some critics, there are still soft spots in the administration’s Russia policies, notably on Syria, where, as the critics say, the U.S. has ceded influence to Russia. But the most significant hole critics see is in the administration’s response to Russia’s election meddling.