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Trump is very tough on Russia

While cries of “treason” and “collusion” from the Washington swamp stifle all reasonable debate, it’s important to remember President Trump’s actions, which have made him the toughest president on Russia in recent history. His record proves it beyond a doubt.

The president has doubled down on existing sanctions on Russia from previous administrations, and a total of 49 Russian operatives have been expelled under the Magnitsky Act — a measure intended to punish Russian officials.

President Trump approved the largest commercial sale of lethal weapons since 2014 to Russia’s foe Ukraine, a decision the previous administration declined to enact.

A dozen executive orders have been signed by the president targeting Russia, which not only restrict their transnational businesses, but also criminalize relationships with some of their biggest energy companies. This includes the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, which requires the president to impose a series of sanctions on North Korea, Iran, and Russia.

Trump also understands the deterrent value of a strong military. Congress approved his proposal for an additional $54 billion for our defense in 2017, equal to the entire defense budgets of countries such as Germany, France, and the U.K. The nearly $900 billion in expected defense spending for the U.S. in 2018 dwarfs the $767 billion spent in Obama’s last year of office.

This type of spending combined with the “peace through strength” mentality forces Russia and its allies to rethink their strategy going forward.

In addition to addressing Russian aggression, consider the numerous steps Trump has taken to pressure our allies to recommit to our mutual security interests. He has projected an unwavering conviction to protect our national security by following through on the threat of military action in Syria and pressuring NATO countries to contribute more for their own defense — unifying the Western world and deterring future threats.

Trump also put the squeeze on Russian ally Iran when he withdrew from the failed nuclear deal and imposed more stringent sanctions on the mullahs.

It’s no wonder Trump said this week, “There’s been no president ever as tough as I have been on Russia.”

Trump accepted our intelligence community’s conclusion that meddling took place in the 2016 election and has full faith in our intelligence agencies. Even face to face, the president pressed Putin during the Helsinki summit on Russian election interference.

Trump sees Russia as a competitor to our country, not an ally. He even said so directly to Putin during their joint press conference. But instead of chastising our adversaries publicly, the president understands that developing relationships with foreign leaders is essential to any future negotiations.

“I would rather take a political risk in pursuit of peace, than to risk peace in pursuit of politics,” the president said during the press conference.

We should all be thankful that Trump is willing to look beyond the political elite in Washington and establish a dialogue with Moscow. Trump is tough on Russia but will maintain open communications no matter what the fake news media say.

Steven Rogers is a retired U.S. Navy intelligence officer and a former member of the FBI National Joint Terrorism Task Force. He is a member of the Donald J. Trump for President 2020 Campaign Advisory Board. steve@awcnj.us

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