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sábado, 31 de marzo de 2018

Report: Trump warns Putin ‘I’ll win’ if US and Russia have an arms race

Tension continues to build between the United States and Russia, following a series of decisions in the past month, by both sides, which many fear has caused a significant deterioration in the relationship between the two countries.

President Donald Trump has taken, ostensibly, a restrained approach towards Russia. But officials told NBC News that he recently made one thing very clear to Vladimir Putin: America would win the arms race. 

Arms Race

At the beginning of March during his annual state of the nation address, Putin claimed Russian had weapon superiority. Speaking to the Russian people roughly two weeks before he would win his country’s presidential “election” for the fourth consecutive term, he boasted about supersonic missiles, drone submarines that cannot be stopped, and intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) that would render the defensive systems of the West “useless.”

Officials told NBC News that this message “really got under [President Trump’s] skin.”

Last week, during a phone call to Putin after his recent election victory, officials say Trump gave Putin his thoughts on the subject:

If you want to have an arms race we can do that, but I’ll win.

Trump, according to insiders, went on to tell the Russian president that “he hoped that Putin’s comments were just election rhetoric and bragged that he’d just secured a $700 billion defense budget, the largest the U.S. has ever had.”

Whether or not President Trump actually said this is unclear. The White House has not commented on the report, and a Russian spokesperson, speaking to the Russian News Agency TASS, denied that the exchange took place.

Escalating tensions

The past month has seen a series of diplomatic actions by the United States and Russia following the attempted poisoning of a former Russian double agent, Sergei Skripal, and his daughter, Yulia, in the U.K. Blaming Russia, President Trump expelled 60 Russian diplomats this week — 48 from their embassy in Washington, D.C., and a consulate in New York City, and another 12 who were working for the Russian Mission at the United Nations.

Other countries followed suit, including Britain, who expelled 23 Russian diplomats.

“The expulsion,” said the White House, “of undeclared Russian intelligence officers by the United States and more than two dozen partner nations and NATO allies earlier this week was an appropriate response to the Russian attack on the soil of the United Kingdom.”

Russia retaliated on Thursday, announcing the expulsion of 60 U.S. diplomats and the closing of the U.S. consulate in St. Petersburg. Russia is taking a similar approach with all of the countries who had Russian diplomats removed.

A further response came on Friday, when the Russian Ministry of Defense tested the ballistic missile that Putin claimed could reach anywhere in the world. The Defense Ministry tweeted a video of the test missile launch.

Trump’s Russian policy?

Many mainstream media sources have been critical of President Trump’s policy on Russia.

Observers will no doubt recognize that Trump has chosen, uncharacteristically, to avoid engaging verbally with Russia. And this has caused many to call his stance towards Russian “soft.”

Trump, of course, blew off these accusations with a characteristically candid tweet, writing, “I have been much tougher on Russia than Obama, just look at the facts. Total Fake News!”

Whatever Trump has lacked in words, he’s making up for with increasingly tough actions.

In addition to increasing sanctions against Russia, the president has recently decided to sell lethal arms to Ukraine to aid in their fight against Russian separatists — something the Obama administration resisted. In light of the recent poisoning allegation against Russia, Trump joins France, Germany, and the U.K. in presenting a united front against Russia.

The Trump administration expected Russia to retaliate as it did in the past few days. We have yet to see what the United States and its allies in the West’s next move will be, but hopefully, it will be one of continued strength and unity.