H.R. McMaster: Russia is trying to 'break apart Europe' with disinformation and propaganda

President Donald Trump's national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, addressed heightening tensions between the US and Russia, as well as Trump's understanding of the threat Russia poses, during an interview with MSNBC's Hugh Hewitt that aired on Sunday.

When Hewitt asked McMaster whether Trump has a "clear-eyed understanding of the nature of his counterpart in Russia and the nature of the regime," McMaster replied that "the nature of the Russian regime is one person," Russian president Vladimir Putin.

McMaster did not specifically address Hewitt's question as it related to Trump, but went on to note that Russia's actions in recent years, like its aggression toward neighboring Ukraine and its 2014 annexation of Crimea, have drawn censure from the international community, which responded by imposing tough economic sanctions on Russia.

"Russia must play a much more responsible role in the world if it's going to be a full-fledged member of the international community," McMaster told Hewitt.

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National Security Adviser Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster
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National Security Adviser Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster
Newly named National Security Adviser Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster listens as U.S. President Donald Trump makes the announcement at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida U.S. February 20, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
U.S. President Donald Trump announces his new National Security Adviser Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster (L) at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida U.S. February 20, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
Newly appointed National Security Adviser Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster listens as U.S. President Donald Trump makes the announcement at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida U.S. February 20, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
U.S. President Donald Trump shakes hands with his new National Security Adviser Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster after making the announcement at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida U.S. February 20, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
U.S. President Donald Trump departs the room after announcing his new National Security Adviser Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster (L) who receives a handshake from newly named chief of staff of the National Security Council Gen. Keith Kellogg (C) at Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida U.S. February 20, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
U.S. President Donald Trump shakes hands with his new National Security Adviser Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster after making the announcement at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida U.S. February 20, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
White House National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster (C) and Chief Strategist Steve Bannon (L) attend a joint news conference between U.S. President Donald Trump and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S., April 12, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
White House National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster delivers a statement to reporters at the White House in Washington, U.S. May 15, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
White House national security advisor H.R. McMaster (L) arrives with Press Secretary Sean Spicer (R) to speak to reporters in the White House briefing room in Washington, U.S., May 16, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
White House senior advisor Jared Kushner (2nd R) looks on as Lockheed Martin Chairman and CEO Marillyn Hewson (L) exchanges agreements with a Saudi official after a signing ceremony between Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and U.S. President Donald Trump at the Royal Court in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia May 20, 2017. Also pictured are White House national security advisor H.R. McMaster (L), chief economic advisor Gary Cohn (3rd R) and Chief of Staff Reince Priebus (R). REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump walks to Marine One with National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster as they depart for a day trip to Miami from the White House in Washington, U.S., June 16, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
U.S. President Donald Trump eats Belgian chocolate flanked by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (L) and National security adviser H.R. McMaster react as they eat Belgian chocolate during their meeting with Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel in Brussels, Belgium, May 24, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
White House National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster joins White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders (unseen) for the daily briefing, to address sanctions on Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro , at the White House in Washington, U.S. July 31, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
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He did not broach the subject of Russia's latest transgression, a wide-ranging and multifaceted attack on the 2016 American election that was undertaken to tilt the race in Trump's favor, until Hewitt brought it up.

McMaster characterized it as a "sophisticated campaign of subversion and disinformation and propaganda that is going every day in an effort to break apart Europe and that pit political groups against each other ... to sow dissension and conspiracy theories." He did not elaborate on specific actions Russia took with respect to its interference in the US election, but criticized Russia's role in escalating the Syrian civil war and its support for Iran's objectives in the Middle East.

McMaster's apparent reluctance to comment directly on Russia's US election interference seems to be a reflection of Trump's own views. Trump has so far offered a lukewarm acknowledgment that Russia meddled in the 2016 race after repeatedly casting doubt on the conclusions of the US intelligence community, which found that Putin personally ordered the hacking of the Democratic National Committee's servers and the Clinton campaign, as well as an elaborate disinformation campaign that included flooding social media with "fake news" designed to undermine Clinton and boost Trump.

McMaster also told Hewitt that while there should be consequences for Russia's "destabilizing behavior" across the globe, it should not prevent the US from cooperating with Russia on certain national security goals, like deescalating the situation with North Korea, which has significantly ramped up its missile testing program in recent weeks.

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Members past and present of President Trump's inner circle
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Members past and present of President Trump's inner circle
Ivanka Trump: First daughter and presidential adviser
Gen. John Kelly: Former Secretary of Homeland Security, current White House chief of staff
Steve Bannon: Former White House chief strategist, no longer with the Trump administration
Jared Kushner: Son-in-law and senior adviser
Kellyanne Conway: Former Trump campaign manager, current counselor to the president
Reince Priebus: Former White House chief of staff, no longer with the Trump administration
Anthony Scaramucci: Former White House communications director, no longer with the Trump administration
Sarah Huckabee Sanders: White House press secretary
Donald Trump Jr.: First son to President Trump
Sean Spicer: Former White House press secretary, soon to be no longer with the Trump administration
Jeff Sessions: U.S. attorney general
Steve Mnuchin: Secretary of Treasury
Paul Manafort: Former Trump campaign chairman
Carter Page: Former foreign policy adviser to Trump's presidential campaign
Omarosa Manigault: Director of communications for the Office of Public Liaison
Melania Trump: Wife to President Trump and first lady of the United States
Jason Miller: Former White House communications director, no longer with the Trump administration
Hope Hicks: White House Director of Strategic Communications
Mike Dubke: Former White House communications director, no longer with the Trump administration
Stephen Miller: Trump senior policy adviser
Corey Lewandowski: Former Trump campaign manager
Eric Trump: Son to President Trump
Rex Tillerson: Secretary of State
Michael Flynn: Former National Security Advisor, no longer with the Trump administration
Sebastian Gorka: Former deputy assistant to the president in the Trump administration, no longer in his White House role
Roger Stone: Former Trump campaign adviser, current host of Stone Cold Truth
Betsy DeVos: U.S. Education Secretary
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