National security adviser McMaster rips Russian 'campaigns of subversion'

WASHINGTON — President Trump’s national security adviser, Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, accused Russia on Tuesday of waging “campaigns of subversion” against the United States and its allies. McMaster also announced that Trump would unveil his first formal National Security Strategy on Dec. 18.

McMaster’s comments about Moscow amounted to unusually sharp criticism from an aide to Trump, who since taking office has repeatedly said he wants better relations with President Vladimir Putin.

“We’re facing a threat from Russia that involves also so-called new generation warfare,” McMaster said. “And these are very sophisticated campaigns of subversion — and disinformation, and propaganda, using cybertools operating across multiple domains — that attempt to divide our communities within our nations and pit them against each other and try to create crises of confidence.”

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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
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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
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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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The general made no explicit reference to the U.S. intelligence community’s finding that Russia interfered in the 2016 election.

The remarks came at a forum focused on U.S. relations with Britain run by the Policy Exchange think tank.

McMaster also had tough words for China, which he accused of “economic aggression” that is “challenging the rules-based economic order that helped lift hundreds of millions of people out of poverty” since World War II.

The general said Trump would reveal his first National Security Strategy — essentially an administration’s statement of principles about foreign policy — on Monday. While a president’s NSS is often a glorified press release, the document has at times commanded headlines, such as when then-President George W. Bush embraced “preventive war” in 2002, ahead of the invasion of Iraq.

McMaster identified three broad types of threats to U.S. national security: “revisionist powers” like China and Russia that “undermine the international order”; rogue regimes like Iran and North Korea; and transnational terrorist groups.

When it comes to North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs, he said, “Now it’s time for all nations to do more, beyond U.N. Security Council resolutions, to make the most out of what might be our last best chance to avoid military conflict.”

Asked about prospects for ousting North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un from power, McMaster replied: “That’s not our policy.”

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