Nikki Haley “got ahead of the curve” by announcing sanctions against Russia, chief White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said Tuesday.
Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said Sunday the U.S. planned to punish Moscow for its support of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government over an alleged chemical weapons attack in Syria.
The White House walked back the plan on Monday, saying new sanctions were “under consideration” but no decision had been made.
President Trump told members of his national security team that he was not comfortable rolling out the additional sanctions, the Washington Post reported on Monday.
The confusion came days after the U.S., France and Britain ordered air strikes on targets they claimed were Syrian chemical weapons facilities.
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Russian President Vladimir Putin said the military strikes violated the UN Charter and that if they continue, “it will inevitably entail chaos in international relations,” according to a Kremlin statement on Sunday.
Kudlow sought to tamp down any concern over tensions between Haley and the President.
“She got ahead of the curve,” Kudlow said. “There might have been some momentary confusion about that.”
There has been some confusion over the Trump administration’s policy toward Russia for some time.
The President has alternatively bragged about how tough he is on the former Soviet superpower and has repeatedly said he would like to have warmer relations with the Kremlin.
Trump has often praised Russian President Vladimir Putin — recently calling him to congratulate him on his reelection win — while his administration has presented an ever-shifting front against Moscow.
Trump, haunted by a federal investigation into whether anyone in his campaign coordinated with the Kremlin to influence the 2016 election, has refused to criticize Russian efforts to sway votes in the U.S. and other countries.
Trump invited Putin to the White House a few weeks ago.
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But last month, the Trump administration expelled 60 diplomats and suspected spies after Britain accused Russia of attacking a former spy, living in Britain, with a military-grade nerve agent.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Monday “the President has been clear that he’s going to be tough on Russia, but at the same time he’d still like to have a good relationship with them.”
Haley, meanwhile, called on Russia “to take a hard look at the company it keeps.”
Her Russian counterpart Vasily Nebenzya retorted that the U.S. and its allies were engaged in the “diplomacy of myth-making.”
Kudlow says additional sanctions are under consideration but have not been implemented yet.