US President Donald Trump has reportedly told advisers he might temporarily put aside a plan to reach an agreement with Russia on how to deal with Daesh terrorists and other national security issues.
Trump and his aides have made the decision following the recent provocations by Russia, including the deployment of a cruise missile which, according to the White House, violated a Cold War-era arms control treaty, administration officials and Western diplomats told the Associated Press on Saturday.
Some cabinet members, including Defense Secretary James Mattis and new national security adviser H.R. McMaster, and European allies have put Trump under pressure not to compromise with Russia.
According to an administration official, McMaster has described Russia as a country that seeks to reverse the current world order.
Trump has reportedly sent a letter to Eastern European leaders, who are concerned about possible border disputes with Russia, stressing Washington’s commitment to their security.
Trump is said to have considered a comprehensive agreement with Russia that could include cooperation in countering Daesh, nuclear arms control and Moscow’s role in Ukraine.
However, the Trump administration has changed its tone over the past few days, indicating that it may not be an appropriate time for such a deal, as the FBI is probing Trump’s campaign associates for their possible links to Russia and congressional committees are conducting inquiries into the alleged Russian meddling in the US 2016 election.
Trump has been under pressure for his possible ties with Russia, as he has taken an unusually friendly position towards Moscow and repeatedly called for stronger relations particularly in fighting terrorism.
The US president has rejected having any connections or financial ties with Russia and stressed that he has not been aware of any contacts between his campaign advisers and Russia during the 2016 campaign, a period in which the US intelligence apparatus assumes Russia was interfering in the election in favor of Trump.
Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak (File photo)
On Saturday, former acting director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) John McLaughlin rejected recent mainstream media claims that the Russian envoy to Washington, Sergey Kislyak, is a spy and warned against a new Cold War with Moscow.
McLaughlin warned against recent revelations that Attorney General Jeff Sessions held talks with the Russian diplomat when he was a senator and adviser to Trump’s presidential campaign before his election into office in November 2016.
Kislyak has emerged as the centerpiece of a controversy which has so far led to forced resignation of the Trump administration’s first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, less than a month after the new president was sworn into office.
Sessions is the second senior administration official caught in the controversy of meeting with Kislyak as lawmakers from the rival Democratic Party, which suffered heavy electoral defeats in the November elections, demand the attorney general’s resignation for failing to reveal his contacts with Kislyak prior to Trump’s inauguration.
Meanwhile, Russia’s Foreign Ministry strongly denied allegations that its envoy to Washington is engaged in spying activities with spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, slamming the press rumors about Kislyak as “media vandalism.”