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Trump reverses Haley on imposing sanctions on Russia

On Sunday, Haley had said that Syria-related Russia sanctions were coming and treasury secretary Steve Mnuchin would announce them on Monday, “if he hasn’t already”.

world Updated: Apr 18, 2018 08:58 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times, Washington
US President Donald Trump,Nikki Haley,Sarah Huckabee Sanders
File photo of US President Donald Trump (right) and his ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley.(Reuters)

US President Donald Trump is reported to have scrapped a plan to impose sanctions on Russia for its support of the Syrian government, reversing an earlier announcement made by his ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley.

“We are considering additional sanctions on Russia and a decision will be made in the near future,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement on Monday.

“The president has been clear that he’s going to be tough on Russia,” Sanders told reporters on a flight to Florida, where Trump was on Monday. “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.”

In an interview to CBS on Sunday, Haley had said that Syria-related Russia sanctions were coming and treasury secretary Steve Mnuchin would announce them on Monday, “if he hasn’t already”.

More specifically, Haley had said the plan was to sanction “companies that were dealing with” equipment related to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and “chemical weapons use”.

While some news reports, citing unidentified officials, said Haley might have misspoken, others indicated there was indeed a plan on the menu of follow-up steps to the April 14 air strikes, but Trump was not ready to execute them and had not given his final authorisation.

Trump wants to work with Russia and has been reluctant to publicly criticise President Vladimir Putin. Disregarding advice from aides, he congratulated Putin for his victory in elections most Americans believe were a sham, and even invited him to the White House for talks.

But Trump has also announced two rounds of economic sanctions against Russia and ordered the expulsion of 60 Russian diplomats, joining allies Britain, France and others in a coordinated retaliation to the poisoning of a former Russia spy and his daughter in Britain.

However, his decision to publicly reverse an announcement by Haley has revealed deep schisms in his national security team, in which John Bolton has recently been added as national security adviser. Bolton, a known foreign policy hawk, has advocated a more extensive and “ruinous” strike on Syria, while defence secretary James Mattis has pushed for restraint and limited action, according to The Wall Street Journal.

First Published: Apr 17, 2018 22:46 IST