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Trump’s Tough-On-Russia Record

- March 15, 2018

President Trump Has Repeatedly Sanctioned Russia And Supported Our Allies Against Russian Aggressions


TOP TAKEAWAYS

  • Today, President Trump imposed new sanctions on Russian organizations and individuals tied to malicious cyber-attacks against the U.S.
    • These sanctions are part of a broader effort to address ongoing nefarious attacks emanating from Russia and additional sanctions are forthcoming.
  • Last year, President Trump signed legislation imposing punitive sanctions on Russia for belligerent activities including human rights abuses, and evasion of existing sanctions.
  • Throughout 2017, President Trump worked to punish Russia for its belligerent behavior in Ukraine.
    • President Trump sanctioned more than three dozen organizations and individuals involved in the Russian incursion into Ukraine.
    • Trump approved the largest sale of lethal defense weapons to Ukrainian forces in years in a move widely praised by U.S. and Ukrainian officials.
  • In response to Russia's retaliation over U.S. sanctions, the Trump administration ordered Russia to close its consulate in San Francisco and two diplomatic annexes in New York and Washington.
  • The Trump administration has condemned Russian leaders for violations of human rights, and strongly condemned Russia for an attempted assassination in the U.K., calling the action an "assault on U.K. sovereignty" and a "clear violation" of international law.
  • President Trump has taken concrete actions to bolster the NATO alliance against Russian influence.
    • The Trump administration has increased training and drills with U.S. NATO partners.
    • In 2018, the Department of Defense plans to increase European Deterrence Initiative spending by $1.4 billion dollars.
    • NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said European members and Canada, amid pressure from President Trump, spent 5% more on defense last year compared to 2016.
  • Additional information from RNC Research: Obama's Feckless Foreign Policy Emboldened Russia

IN RESPONSE TO RUSSIAN CYBER-ATTACKS, PRESIDENT TRUMP HAS OVERSEEN THE IMPLEMENTATION OF MULTIPLE ROUNDS OF SANCTIONS AGAINST RUSSIA

Today, The Trump Administration Imposed Sanctions On Russian Organizations And Operatives That Engaged In "Malicious" Cyberattacks On The United States

On March 15, The Trump Administration Imposed Sanctions On Russian Organizations And Individuals That Engaged In "Malicious" Cyberattacks On The United States. "President Trump's administration imposed sanctions on a series of Russian organizations and individuals on Thursday in retaliation for interference in the 2016 presidential elections and other 'malicious' cyberattacks. It was the most significant action taken against Moscow since Mr. Trump took office." (Peter Baker, "Trump Administration Sanctions Russians For Election Meddling And Cyberattacks," The New York Times , 03/15/18)

  • The Sanctions Target Five Russian Organizations And 19 Individuals, And Will Freeze Their Assets Block Them From Traveling To United States Or Engaging In Business With Americans. "The sanctions, targeting five Russian organizations and 19 individuals, will generally block them from traveling to the United States, freeze any assets in the country and bar American businesses and individuals from doing business with them." (Peter Baker, "Trump Administration Sanctions Russians For Election Meddling And Cyberattacks," The New York Times , 03/15/18)

The Russian Organizations Sanctioned Include The Federal Security Service, Formerly Known As The K.G.B, And G.R.U., Russian Military Intelligence. "Among the organizations sanctioned were the Federal Security Service, the successor to the K.G.B. known by its Russian acronym F.S.B., and Russian military intelligence, known as G.R.U., although they, like a few others, were previously penalized under past actions for the intervention in Ukraine." (Peter Baker, "Trump Administration Sanctions Russians For Election Meddling And Cyberattacks," The New York Times , 03/15/18)

These Sanctions Are Part Of A Broader Effort To Address Ongoing Nefarious Attacks Emanating From Russia And Additional Sanctions Are Forthcoming. "'These targeted sanctions are a part of a broader effort to address the ongoing nefarious attacks emanating from Russia. Treasury intends to impose additional CAATSA sanctions, informed by our intelligence community, to hold Russian government officials and oligarchs accountable for their destabilizing activities by severing their access to the U.S. financial system.'" (Press Release, "Treasury Sanctions Russian Cyber Actors For Interference With The 2016 U.S. Elections And Malicious Cyber-Attacks," Department Of Treasury , 3/15/18)

In August 2017, President Trump Signed The "Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act," Which Imposed New Sanctions On Russia For Its 2016 Hacking Activities

On August 2, 2017, President Trump Signed Legislation Which Imposed New Sanctions On Russia. "President Trump quietly signed legislation Wednesday that imposes new sanctions on Russia and limits his ability to remove them, according to two White House aides. Trump signed the bill without cameras or an immediate press release." (Noah Bierman, "Trump Quietly Signs Russia Sanctions Bill," The Los Angeles Times , 08/02/17)

  • The Bill Prevents American Companies From Investing In Energy Projects That Are Funded By Russian Government Interests . "The bill, which also imposes new sanctions on Iran and North Korea, prevents American companies from investing in many energy projects that are funded by Russian government interests." (Noah Bierman, "Trump Quietly Signs Russia Sanctions Bill," The Los Angeles Times , 08/02/17)

The Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act Included Sanctions For Russian Activities Involving Cyber Security, Corruption, Human Rights Abuse, Sanctions Evasion, Transactions With Russian Defense Or Intelligence Sectors, And Arms Transfers To Syria. "The President must submit for congressional review certain proposed actions to terminate or waive sanctions with respect to the Russian Federation. Specified executive order sanctions against Russia shall remain in effect. The President may waive specified cyber- and Ukraine-related sanctions. The bill provides sanctions for activities concerning: (1) cyber security, (2) crude oil projects, (3) financial institutions, (4) corruption, (5) human rights abuses, (6) evasion of sanctions, (7) transactions with Russian defense or intelligence sectors, (8) export pipelines, (9) privatization of state-owned assets by government officials, and (10) arms transfers to Syria. The Department of State shall work with the government of Ukraine to increase Ukraine's energy security. The bill: (1) directs the Department of the Treasury to develop a national strategy for combating the financing of terrorism, and (2) includes the Secretary of the Treasury on the National Security Council." ("H.R. 3364," Congress.gov , Accessed 02/21/18)

In Response To Russian Retaliation Against The Sanctions, The Trump Administration Ordered Russia To Close Its Consulate In San Francisco And Two Diplomatic Annexes In New York And Washington. "The Trump administration ordered Russia on Thursday to close its consulate in San Francisco and two diplomatic annexes, in New York and Washington, in a carefully calculated riposte to Russia's order that the United States cut its diplomatic staff in Russia." (Mark Landler, and Gardiner Harris, "In Retaliation, U.S. Orders Russia To Close Consulate In San Francisco," The New York Times , 08/31/17)

PRESIDENT TRUMP HAS TAKEN ACTION TO PUNISH RUSSIA FOR ITS ACTIVITIES IN UKRAINE

By The End Of His Administration, President Obama's Policy In The Ukraine Was Called "Woefully Inadequate" And "Foundering"

President Obama's Response To The Crimean Occupation Was Seen As "Woefully Inadequate." "Obama's response to Russia's invasion of Crimea in March 2014, and Moscow's subsequent support of pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine was economic sanctions. Although the measures had an impact on the Russian economy, they were seen as woefully inadequate by some Republican lawmakers in Congress." (Krishnadev Calamur, "Was Obama Too Soft On Russia," The Atlantic , 02/15/17)

In 2016, Two Years After The Russian Occupation, Obama's "Ukraine Policy Was "Foundering." "Two years after the pro-western protests that toppled Kyiv's government, enraged Putin, and caused an international crisis, Obama's Ukraine policy is foundering - the victim of Putin's steely determination, the distractions of Syria and ISIL, and wavering support from European allies eager to move past the conflict." (Michael Crowley, "Obama's Ukraine Policy In Shambles," Politico , 02/29/16)

In June 2017, President Trump Imposed New Sanctions On Russia Over Its Incursions In Ukraine

On June 20, 2017, President Trump Sanctioned More Than Three Dozen Individuals And Organizations Participating In The Russian Incursion In Ukraine. "The Trump administration ratcheted up pressure on Russia on Tuesday, unveiling sanctions on more than three dozen additional individuals and organizations that have participated in the country's incursion in Ukraine." (Alan Rappeport and Neil MacFarquhar, "Trump Imposes New Sanctions On Russia Over Ukraine Incursion," The New York Times , 06/20/17)

The 38 Individuals Sanctioned Were Involved In Efforts To "Knit Crimea And The Breakaway Donbass Region More Closely To Russia." "The 38 individuals and entities newly designated by the Treasury Department were largely involved in efforts to try to knit Crimea and the breakaway Donbass region in eastern Ukraine more closely to Russia. A few were cheerleaders for the efforts." (Alan Rappeport and Neil MacFarquhar, "Trump Imposes New Sanctions On Russia Over Ukraine Incursion," The New York Times , 06/20/17)

In July 2017, President Trump Appointed Russian Hawk Kurt Volker To Be Envoy To Ukraine And Charged Him With Ending The Conflict

On July 7, 2017, President Trump Appointed Kurt Volker To Serve As The United States Special Representative For Ukraine Negotiations. "Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson announced today his appointment of Ambassador Kurt Volker to serve as the United States Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations." (Press Release, Secretary Tillerson Appoints Ambassador Kurt Volker Special Representative For Ukraine Negotiations, U.S. Department Of State , 07/07/17)

Foreign Policy Wrote That The Trump Administration Now "Has A Russian Hawk With Extensive Diplomatic Experience," Charged With Ending The Conflict. "Secretary of State Rex Tillerson tapped former U.S. ambassador to NATO Kurt Volker to be special representative to Ukraine, as the Trump administration grapples with how to end conflict in the war-shattered country more than three years after Russia's invasion. With Volker's appointment, announced hours before President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin met face-to-face for the first time, the Trump administration now has a Russia hawk with extensive diplomatic experience charged with running the day-to-day slog ending a frozen conflict." (Robbie Gramer, "Trump, Tillerson Tap Russia Hawk Volker For Ukraine Envoy," Foreign Policy , 07/07/17)

Former U.S. Ambassador John Herbst Said, "The Fact That They Appointed [Volker] Is A Sign This Administration Is Serious About Ukraine." "'The fact that they appointed [Volker] is a sign this administration is serious about Ukraine,' John Herbst, former U.S. ambassador to Kiev, told Foreign Policy. That seriousness could push all sides into honoring the Minsk accords, an internationally-monitored ceasefire plan hastily brokered in 2015 as the conflict flared up." (Robbie Gramer, "Trump, Tillerson Tap Russia Hawk Volker For Ukraine Envoy," Foreign Policy , 07/07/17)

In December 2017, President Trump Approved The Largest Sale Of Lethal Defensive Weapons To Ukraine In Three Years

In December 2017, The Trump Administration Approved The Largest Sale Of Lethal Defensive Weapons To Ukraine Since 2014. "The Trump administration has approved the largest U.S. commercial sale of lethal defensive weapons to Ukraine since 2014. The move was heavily supported by top Trump national security Cabinet officials and Congress but may complicate President Trump's stated ambition to work with Russian President Vladimir Putin." (Josh Rogin, "Trump Administration Approves Lethal Arms Sales To Ukraine," The Washington Post , 12/20/17)

  • Earlier In 2017, The Trump Administration Approved The Sale Of Shoulder-Fired Rocket Launchers To Ukraine. "Earlier this year, the Trump administration approved the sale of shoulder-fired rocket launchers by AirTronic, a U.S. manufacturer in Texas, to Ukraine, according to the company's COO. Richard Vandiver told Voice of America that his firm has been selling the weapons since last year, and 'we are continuing deliveries up until now.'" (Conor Finnegan, "Trump approves sale of new arms to Ukraine amid escalated fighting," ABC News , 12/21/17)

These Weapons Addressed Ukrainian Forces' Vulnerability To Russian-Backed Separatists In Two Eastern Provinces. "These weapons address a specific vulnerability of Ukrainian forces fighting a Russian-backed separatist movement in two eastern provinces." (Josh Rogin, "Trump Administration Approves Lethal Arms Sales To Ukraine," The Washington Post , 12/20/17)

A Senior Administration Official Said President Trump Personally Approved The Decision. " Another senior Trump administration official said that Trump personally approved the decision to allow the issuing of the license after being presented a decision memo by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson." (Josh Rogin, "Trump Administration Approves Lethal Arms Sales To Ukraine," The Washington Post , 12/20/17)

In September 2017, Ukrainian Prime Minister Petro Poroshenko Has Said In An Interview "We Have Full Support, Not Only In The United States Congress, But We Have The Full Support Of The United States Administration." QUESTION: "Let me ask you about your relationship with the United States. Obviously, you know, Canada we are their closest neighbor, biggest trading partner and we have had to work extremely hard to understand the new administration and figure out the relationship. I imagine you have had to work extremely hard to figure out the administration, particular when there is this cloud of Russia." UKRAINIAN PRIME MINISTER PETRO POROSHENKO: "We have full support, not only in the United States Congress, but we have the full support of the United States Administration." ("Petro Poroshenko On His Relationship With Donald Trump," CBC News , 09/25/17)

PRESIDENT TRUMP HAS CONDEMNED RUSSIA FOR ITS ALLEGED ROLE IN THE POISONING OF A DEFECTOR AND FOR HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS

President Trump Joined Other World Leaders In Strongly Condemning Russia For The Poisoning Of A Russian Defector In The U.K.

On March 4, A Former Soviet Spy, Sergei Skripal, And His Daughter Yulia Were Poisoned By With The Nerve Agent Novichok And Found Unconscious On A Park Bench In Salisbury, Southern England. "On March 4, Sergei Skripal, a former Soviet and Russian spy, was found unconscious on a bench alongside his daughter Yulia. According to May, they were poisoned with a nerve agent known as 'Novichok' in Salisbury, Southern England, where he lives. Both Skripal and his daughter are still in the hospital and are reportedly in dire condition." (Alex Ward, "The British Government Says Russia Poisoned An Ex-Spy In The U.K. Now London Is Striking Back," Vox , 03/14/18)

  • Novichok Is Considered To Be The Most Lethal Nerve Agent In The World, And Has Been Produced By The Russian Government For Decades. Novichok is part of a group of nerve agents considered to be the most lethal in the world, and the Russian government has been producing it for decades." (Alex Ward, "The British Government Says Russia Poisoned An Ex-Spy In The U.K. Now London Is Striking Back," Vox , 03/14/18)
  • The Prime Minster Of The UK Teresa May Stated That "The Russian State Was Culpable For The Attempted Murder Of Mr. Skripal And His Daughter." "Two days ago, May said it was 'highly likely' Russia was behind the mysterious chemical attack and requested that the country help her government understand exactly what happened. But it appears Russia didn't comply with her request, and now she says 'there is no alternative conclusion other than that the Russian State was culpable for the attempted murder of Mr. Skripal and his daughter - and for threatening the lives of other British citizens.'" (Alex Ward, "The British Government Says Russia Poisoned An Ex-Spy In The U.K. Now London Is Striking Back," Vox , 03/14/18)

In Response, President Donald Trump Along With The Leaders Of Britain, France, And Germany Released A Joint Statement Condemning Russia For The Poisoning. "The leaders of United States, Britain, France and Germany have released a joint statement condemning Russia for the poisoning of Sergei Skripal in England last week." (Adam Bienkov, "Trump, May, Merkel And Macron Issue Joint Statement Blaiming Russia For Sergei Skripal Poisoning," Business Insider , 03/15/18)

In The Statement, President Trump And Other Leaders Called The Poisoning An "Assault On UK Sovereignty" And A "Clear Violation Of The Chemical Weapons Convention And A Breach Of International Law." "This use of a military-grade nerve agent, of a type developed by Russia, constitutes the first offensive use of a nerve agent in Europe since the Second World War. It is an assault on UK sovereignty and any such use by a State party is a clear violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention and a breach of international law." (Adam Bienkov, "Trump, May, Merkel And Macron Issue Joint Statement Blaiming Russia For Sergei Skripal Poisoning," Business Insider , 03/15/18)

President Trump And Other Signatories Called On Russia To Address All Questions Related To The Attack, And To Live Up To Its Responsibilities As A Member Of The UN Security Council. " Russia should in particular provide full and complete disclosure of the Novichok programme to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). Our concerns are also heightened against the background of a pattern of earlier irresponsible Russian behaviour. We call on Russia to live up to its responsibilities as a member of the UN Security Council to uphold international peace and security." (Adam Bienkov, "Trump, May, Merkel And Macron Issue Joint Statement Blaiming Russia For Sergei Skripal Poisoning," Business Insider , 03/15/18)

President Trump Has Imposed Sanctions On Russians Accused Of Human Rights Violations

On December 20, 2017, The Trump Administration Imposed Sanctions On Five Russians, For Violations Of A U.S. Human Rights Law. "The United States on Wednesday imposed sanctions on five Russians, including the leader of Chechnya, under a U.S. human rights law that has been a major irritant between Washington and Moscow." (Josh Lederman, "US Slaps 5 Russians With Sanctions Over Human Rights," Chicago Tribune , 12/20/17)

  • Among Those Sanctioned Included Ramzan Kadyrov, The Head Of Chechnya, Who Oversaw Extrajudicial Killings And Personally Carried Out Torture Of Political Rivals. "The latest additions include Ramzan Kadyrov, the head of Chechnya, a predominantly Muslim republic in southern Russia. The Treasury Department said Kadyrov oversaw "disappearances and extrajudicial killings" and that he's believed to have ordered the killing of one of his political rivals. The rival had accused Kadyrov of personally carrying out torture." (Josh Lederman, "US Slaps 5 Russians With Sanctions Over Human Rights," Chicago Tribune , 12/20/17)
  • The Top Sanctions Official At The Treasury Department, John Smith Pledged That The Administration Would Continue To "Aggressively Target Gross Violators Of Human Rights In Russia." "'We will continue to use the Magnitsky Act to aggressively target gross violators of human rights in Russia, including individuals responsible for extrajudicial killings, torture and other despicable acts,' said John Smith, a top sanctions official at the Treasury Department." (Josh Lederman, "US Slaps 5 Russians With Sanctions Over Human Rights," Chicago Tribune , 12/20/17)

DURING HIS FIRST YEAR IN OFFICE, PRESIDENT TRUMP TOOK CONCRETE STEPS TO BOLSTER THE NORTH ATLANTIC TREATY ORGANIZATION AND COUNTER RUSSIAN BELLIGERENCE

President Trump Has Bolstered The NATO Alliance And Countered Moscow By Increasing Military Funding, Training, And Drilling With NATO Partners

Foreign Policy : "The Trump Administration Has Taken Concrete Steps To Bolster The [NATO] Alliance And Counter Moscow." "Despite his rhetoric, Trump's administration has taken concrete steps to bolster the alliance and counter Moscow, approving weapons sales to help Ukraine take on pro-Russian separatists and deploying more American tanks to NATO's eastern flank." (Dan De Luce, Robbie Gramer, and Emily Tamkin, "Trump's Shadow Hangs Over NATO," Foreign Policy , 01/29/18)

The Trump Administration Has Reassured European Governments, Increased Funding For More U.S. Troops And Hardware In Eastern Europe, And Has Bolstered "Training And Drills With NATO Partners. " In a move that reassured European governments, the Trump administration has opted to increase funding for more U.S. troops and hardware in Eastern Europe and to bolster training and drills with NATO partners." (Dan De Luce, Robbie Gramer, and Emily Tamkin, "Trump's Shadow Hangs Over NATO," Foreign Policy , 01/29/18)

In 2018, The Department Of Defense Plans To Increase Its Spending As Part Of The European Deterrence Initiative By $1.4 Billion Dollars. "As part of the European Deterrence Initiative, the Defense Department plans to spend $4.8 billion in 2018, an increase of $1.4 billion over fiscal year 2017." (Dan De Luce, Robbie Gramer, and Emily Tamkin, "Trump's Shadow Hangs Over NATO," Foreign Policy , 01/29/18)

  • The European Deterrence Initiative, Originally A Show Of Commitment To European Stability, Has Shifted Into A Deterrent Approach Against Russia Due To The State's Increasing Aggression. "A U.S. initiative begun in 2014 to reassure allies that the United States remains committed to enduring peace and stability in Europe has transitioned into a deterrent approach in light of Russian aggression, senior Defense Department civilian and military officials told Congress yesterday." (Terri Moon Cronk, "European Reassurance Initiative Shifts To Deterrence," Department Of Defense News , 07/14/16)
  • The European Deterrence Initiative Has Increased The Presence Of U.S. Forces In Europe, And Provides For A Force Capable Of "Defeating Threats Posed By Regional Adversaries." "Overview: Increasing the presence of U.S. forces in Europe through the deployment of rotational forces (e.g. heal-to-toe presence of ground combat forces and enablers) as well as deferring previously-planned force reductions (e.g. retaining theater air superiority), provides for a more robust U.S. military presence throughout the European theater. This increase presence provides the USEUCOM Commander with a credible force posture capable of deterring and, if required, defeating threats posed by regional adversaries. The Services in coordination with USEUCOM, are developing options to best utilize equipment and forces to counter regional threats." ("European Deterrence Initiative," Office Of The Under Secretary Of Defense , 02/18)

In His First Year In Office, President Trump Successfully Pressured European Allies To Reaffirm Their Monetary Commitment To NATO

During President Trump's May Trip To Brussels, He Had "Blunt Words" For U.S. Allies Concerning Their Lack Of Contributions To NATO. " What he has been vocal about is pressing NATO allies to pay what he considers their fair share of the alliance's running costs. Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson, traveling with Mr. Trump to Brussels, said the president would have blunt words for the leaders of other NATO members on that issue. And he did, criticizing the other leaders assembled behind him for not contributing 2 percent of their gross domestic product to their defense, as the allied nations had agreed." (Steven Erlanger, "Highlights: In Brussels, Trump Scolds Allies On Cost-Sharing, and Stays Vague On Article 5," The New York Times , 5/25/17)

After "Intense Pressure" From President Trump, NATO Allies Planned To Boost Their Defense Spending By 4.3%. "NATO allies of the United States plan to boost their defense spending by 4.3 percent this year, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Wednesday, a response in part to intense pressure from President Trump that the nations invest more in their militaries." (Michael Birnbaum and Thomas Gibbons-Neff, "NATO Allies Boost Defense Spending In The Wake Of Trump Criticism," The Washington Post , 6/28/17)

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg Said, Amid Pressure From President Trump, European Members And Canada Spent 5% More On Defense Last Year Compared To 2016. "NATO's chief says European members and Canada spent a total of almost 5 percent more on defense last year compared to 2016, amid pressure from U.S. President Donald Trump to boost military budgets. Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Thursday that eight allies are likely to spend the target NATO benchmark of 2 percent of their GDP on defense this year." ("NATO's Chief Says Allies Are Spending More On Defense, Associated Press , 03/15/18)

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg Called The New Contributions "A Significant Increase" And Stated That Because Of The Increased Spending "We Are Moving In The Right Direction When It Comes To Burden-Sharing And Defense Spending." "Speaking to reporters Thursday, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg called the new money 'a significant increase,' adding that 'European Allies and Canada spent almost $46 billion more on defense' since 2014. 'We are moving in the right direction when it comes to burden-sharing and defense spending,' he added." (Ryan Browne, "NATO Members To Increase Defense Spending," CNN, 6/29/17)


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