Donald Trump abruptly stopped more sanctions on Russia on Monday – a day after they were promised by Nikki Haley, the president’s ambassador to the United Nations.
Trump is unlikely to approve them unless Moscow carries out a new cyber attack or some other provocation, a senior administration official told Reuters.
‘The ambassador got out ahead of things this time,’ the senior administration official who deals with the issue told Reuters.
The Washington Post first reported that Trump had put a stop to a plan for additional economic sanctions on Russia.
An official said Trump was concerned that immediately imposing more sanctions, on the heels of last weekend’s U.S.-led strike against Russian-backed Assad, would interfere with his efforts to negotiate agreements with Russian President Vladimir Putin on combating Islamic extremism, policing the internet and other issues.
U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said on Sunday Russia will be sanctioned over an alleged chemical attack in Syria last week
The U.S., U.K. and France ordered strikes against Assad in the Damascus area on Friday
Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement, ‘We are considering additional sanctions on Russia and a decision will be made in the near future.’
Haley said that Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin would hand down additional sanctions on Monday, if he had not already.
‘[T]hey will be going directly to any sort of companies that were dealing with equipment related to Assad and chemical weapons use,’ Haley said.
Her comments echoed a line in ‘White House talking points on Syrian airstrikes’ DailyMail.com received a day before.
‘We also intend to impose specific additional sanctions against Russia to respond to Moscow’s ongoing support for the Assad regime, which has enabled the regime’s atrocities against the Syrian people,’ the document that the Republican National Committee distributed said.
The Treasury Department would not confirm the sanctions on Sunday afternoon, telling DailyMail.com it ‘does not comment on prospective actions.’
And Sanders told reporters Monday, ‘We’re evaluating, but nothing to announce right now.’
Trump’s spokeswoman also pushed back on a boast from French President Emmanuel Macron that he had persuaded President Trump to keep U.S. troops in Syria.
Sanders said the United States’ policy has not changed, and it would still like to pull the 2,000 American soldiers deployed in Syria out as soon as feasible.
‘We’ve talked about this for a while, but our policy hasn’t changed. We still have troops on the ground,’ she said. ‘But the President wants to bring those people home, and that hasn’t shifted.’
At a National Security Council meeting Trump is said to have requested that the troops come home in the next six months. Publicly he’s said he wants it to happen ‘very soon,’ although he made those comments prior to coalition airstrikes last Friday on Syria.
‘We don’t have a timeframe on it,’ Sanders said. ‘It’s not based on an arbitrary timeline, but on defeating ISIS and also getting the Gulf partners in the region to step up and do more both militarily and financially.’
Sanders also knocked down a Washington Post report that claimed Trump was angry that Treasury expelled 60 Russian diplomats the administration says were spies in response to an assassination attempt in March on a retired double agent living in Britain.
According to the Post, Trump only wanted to go as far as the United States’ European partners. Instead, the U.S. wound up taking the lead as Germany and France expelled just four Russian diplomats each.
‘The President is the one that gave the directive. The President has been clear that he’s going to be tough on Russia,’ she contended. ‘But at the same time, he’d still like to have a good relationship with them. But that’s going to be determined by whether or not Russia decides if they want to be a better actor in this process or not.’
Sanders said that has not been the case so far, and so Trump ‘is going to continue to be tough on them.’
‘And that’s why we’re continuing to evaluate a number of sanctions,’ she added.
On Monday, it was clear that a breakdown in communication on sanctions between the White House and the president’s political arm and the White House and Trump’s U.N. ambassador had occurred.
Russia’s RIA news agency quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov as saying that morning that that the Kremlin ‘will not delay in adopting legislation against U.S. sanctions’ if the Trump administration moves forward with the anticipated sanctions.
Trump promised last week that Russia would pay a ‘big price’ if it was found to have been complicit in Assad’s gas attack. The U.S. president said his treat threat extended to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
On Friday, in conjunction with the U.K. and France, Trump ordered targeted strikes against Assad’s forces.
He called out Putin by name in his address for failing to keep a promise in 2013 to eliminate Assad’s chemical weapons stockpile Syria.
‘Russia must decide if it will continue down this dark path, or if it will join with civilized nations as a force for stability and peace,’ Trump said. ‘Hopefully, someday we’ll get along with Russia, and maybe even Iran — but maybe not.’
Putin has not backed down from his support for Assad, despite international pressure to abandon the dictator accused of brutalizing his people. Russia says the U.S.-led strikes were a violation of international law.
The Russian president on Sunday that the strikes were an ‘act of aggression’ and that continued force against Assad would provoke ‘chaos’ in the international relations.
Haley meanwhile said that the U.S. and its allies could hit Assad’s regime with airstrikes again if the Syrian dictators deploys more chemical weapons.
‘The time for talk ended last night,’ Haley told an emergency meeting of the Security Council called by Russia. ‘We are prepared to sustain this pressure, if the Syrian regime is foolish enough to test our will.’
Putin has not backed down on his support for dictator Assad despite international pressure. they are pictured in Moscow in 2015
Assad spoke on Sunday to a group of visiting Russian politicians. The dictator has said the airstrikes against Syria came with a campaign of ‘lies’ and misinformation in the U.N.
Haley warned, ‘When our president draws a red line, our president enforces a red line.’ She said, ‘The United States is locked and loaded.’
Assad seemed un-phased as he went about his business on Sunday, speaking to a group of visiting Russian politicians.
Some 70 people, including children, are said to have died when the Syrian regime unleashed chlorine gas and sarin, a nerve agent, on the rebel-held town of Douma a week ago from Saturday.
Both the Russian and Syrian government have denied involvement in the attack that preceded grusome photos and videos of children vomiting and gasping for air.
The United States and its partners dropped more than 100 bombs on three targets associated with the chemical weapons program in Syria in response to the posion attack early Saturday morning local time.
Trump delivered a national address as the raid was occurring. ‘We are prepared to sustain this response until the Syrian regime stops its use of prohibited chemical agents,’ he said in the broadcast.
‘To Iran, and to Russia, I ask: What kind of a nation wants to be associated with the mass murder of innocent men, women, and children?’ Trump implored.
He warned the Assad friends, ‘The nations of the world can be judged by the friends they keep. No nation can succeed in the long run by promoting rogue states, brutal tyrants, and murderous dictators.’
Both the Russian and Syrian government have denied involvement in the attack that left children vomiting and gasping for air, as shown in poignant photos
A Syrian solfier films the damage of the Syrian Scientific Research Center near Damascus