John McCain warns Donald Trump against lifting Russian sanctions

January 27, 2017 10:30 pm

Senator speaking during a press conference on Capitol hill in Washington, DC, on January 13, 2015. (Photo by AFP)

 US Republican Senator John McCain has warned President of speculations that the new administration in Washington will lift sanctions against Moscow, describing the move as “reckless.”
McCain made the comments in a statement on Friday, as Trump is scheduled to speak with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, the next day. It will be the first time that the two presidents talk on the phone since last week’s inauguration.
“Trump’s call with Vladimir Putin is scheduled to take place amid widespread speculation that the White House is considering lifting sanctions against Russia,” McCain said in the statement.
“For the sake of America’s national security and that of our allies, I hope President Trump will put an end to this speculation and reject such a reckless course,” the US senator said. “If he does not, I will work with my colleagues to codify sanctions against Russia into law.”
McCain argued that punitive measures against Russia had been imposed in response to the Kremlin’s interfering actions in Ukraine and Syria. He also stressed that Moscow was still unwilling to change its behavior and therefore Washington should keep the sanctions in place.
“In just the last three years under Vladimir Putin, Russia has invaded Ukraine, annexed Crimea, threatened NATO allies, and intervened militarily in Syria, leaving a trail of death, destruction, and broken promises in his wake,” he claimed. 
The hawkish GOP senator also noted that Trump should bear in mind that the previous three administrations had “high hopes” for improving the US-Russian relationship and failed because, “Putin wants to be our enemy.”
“[Trump] should remember that the man on the other end of the line is a murderer and a thug who seeks to undermine American national security interests at every turn,” McCain said. “For our commander-in-chief to think otherwise would be naive and dangerous.”
McCain has been a virulent critic of Russia and the new US president, who has repeatedly cast doubt over the claim that Russia launched cyberattacks on the US during the last year’s presidential election.
On December 22, former US president Barack Obama announced a series of economic sanctions against Russia, as well as expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats, over allegations that it interfered in the 2016 presidential election through widespread hacking attacks.
The US claim has been rejected by Moscow.
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