If President Trump is unwilling to hold Vladimir Putin fully accountable for Russia’s attack on our nation during the 2016 election, then he should cancel this meeting in the wake of yesterday’s indictments. The meeting should only go forward if President Trump is prepared to forcefully confront Russia’s actions.
If it wasn’t already clear to our President, yesterday’s indictments of Russian hackers who attacked our fundamental democratic institution — the election process — show that the Russian Federation is not our ally or our friend. They are not to be admired or applauded. They are our adversary and they work against our national security interests every day, on many fronts. Let’s review:
- Vladimir Putin is a former KGB officer who still thinks about the world in Cold War terms. We know he is working for a resurgence of Russian power and influence, especially in Europe but all over the world, too. The President must push back against this by reaffirming U.S. support for our European allies and pacts like NATO.
- Russia attacked, annexed and continues to illegally occupy Crimea. The President must make clear that the U.S. does not recognize this illegal occupation and will continue to hold Russia accountable for it.
- Russian backed forces continue to violate ceasefire agreements in Ukraine and destabilize that country. The President should demand that Russia abide by its commitments and make clear that we will stand with the Ukrainian people against Russian aggression.
- Russia is backing and enabling the murderous Assad regime in Syria, which is responsible for approximately 400,000 deaths. This conflict has emboldened terrorist groups, had dramatic humanitarian impacts, and threatened the region’s stability. The President must make clear that we will not tolerate a Russian-orchestrated plan for Syria that keeps Assad in power against the will of the Syrian people.
- Russia is also developing a stronger relationship with the Iranian regime, reportedly considering arms sales and boosting their economic relationship. This threatens not only our national security interests in the Middle East but also the security of our staunch ally, Israel. The President must call on Russia not to empower and arm the Iranian regime and its terrorist proxies.
- Russia has violated the INF Treaty and the New START Treaty will come to an end in a few short years. The President must advance our nuclear nonproliferation agenda and insist that Russia engage with us on these issues.
And the list could go on. From manipulation of energy supply to arms sales to loans and aid, Russia is promoting its brand of corrupt, authoritarian governance around the world. The American people — and our allies around the world — should expect President Trump not to praise and defer to Vladimir Putin, but to stand up to his aggression and advance our national security interests.