The U.S. and Russia are once again clashing in the Security Council, with UN Ambassador Nikki Haley laying into Russia for vetoing a resolution to sanction Syria for its use of chemical weapons. The Wall Street Journal reports:
The U.S. on Tuesday accused Russia of covering for Syria’s use of chemical weapons, and Russia accused the U.S. of using false pretenses to impose sanctions to try to topple Syria’s government.
The tense exchange mirrored those between Russia and previous U.S. administrations, offering a telling look at deep divisions that remain even as President Donald Trump and his Russian counterpart, President Vladimir Putin, have vowed to improve ties. […]
“It is a sad day on the Security Council when member states start making excuses for other member states killing their own people,” Ms. Haley said. She added the vote signaled to the world that allies of Russia and China would be protected even if they kill their own people.
If one didn’t know better, one might think it was Samantha Power making those comments; Haley’s tough rhetoric here belies the narrative of Trump being a Putin lackey. Nor is this is the first time that the Trump administration has blasted Moscow: last month, Haley chided Russia at the Security Council for its aggression in eastern Ukraine, Secretary of State Tillerson confirmed that the U.S. would uphold existing policy on Ukraine, and Defense Secretary Mattis dismissed the idea of collaborating militarily with Russia in Syria. Meanwhile, Trump has been promising defense budget hikes and an expansion of the nuclear arsenal, both proposals that have alarmed Moscow.
These are hardly the moves of an administration run by a Manchurian candidate. As WRM noted in his essay last week, if Trump really were a Russian mole, he would begin to shift American policy in ways that tangibly benefit Russia. So far, that hasn’t happened, and the Kremlin is still waiting for a payoff to Trump’s earlier conciliatory rhetoric. Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov admitted as much today: “We are full of patience,” Peskov said when asked about Trump’s Russia policy, “and are waiting for some kind of actions to follow these statements that will allow us to understand … the perspectives for bilateral relations.” Judging by Trump’s early hawkish moves, Moscow could be waiting for a rapprochement that never comes.