Tags: Donald Trump | Russia | Trump Administration | vladimir putin | nuclear weapons | diplomats | expulsions

Report: Trump More Hawkish Privately After Putin's Nuke Boast

Image: Report: Trump More Hawkish Privately After Putin's Nuke Boast
President Donald Trump (Getty Images)

By    |   Thursday, 29 March 2018 08:52 PM

President Donald Trump's public posture toward Russian President Vladimir Putin contrasts sharply with a growing private hawkish tone after the Kremlin leader "challenged" him with recent claims of new nuclear weapons, NBC News reported Thursday.

Putin's claim in his March 1 speech about having nuclear-capable weapons that could reach the U.S. "really got under the president's skin," one official told the network.

The Kremlin leader underscored his presentation with a video simulating an attack on what appeared to be the outline of Florida.

In fact, two officials told NBC that Trump told Putin during last week's telephone call after Putin's re-election: "If you want to have an arms race we can do that, but I'll win."

However, the president later told reporters that he had "a very good call" with Putin and that he hoped to meet with him soon to discuss ending an arms race.

Trump's public comments reflect a longstanding "hope for warmer relations with Putin and stubborn refusal to be seen as appeasing the media or critics who question his silence or kind words for the Russian leader," NBC reported.

The paradox was again on display Monday, when the White House said it would expel 60 Russian diplomats in response to the Kremlin's alleged nerve-agent attack on a former spy and his daughter in England.

The expulsion affected the largest number of diplomats since the Cold War, NBC reported, and it was the strongest rebuke to Moscow since Trump took office last year.

However, President Trump did not comment on it, later insisting that he "still wants to work with Russia."

The NBC report also contrasted Trump's decision two weeks ago on imposing sanctions against Russia for its meddling in the 2016 election.

One White House official told the network that Trump pushed back on the sanctions proposals by arguing that Russia's meddling did not affect the election — but that changed after Putin's showcased his nuclear weapons.

In addition, President Trump's national security advisers have been arguing for stronger action against Russia by saying that "Putin responds to strength and the way to achieve better relations is to be tougher on him," according to NBC.

One official described it as a way to "motivate" Trump on Russia.

"He digs in his heels," the official told the network. "He thinks a better relationship with Russia is good for the U.S. — and he really believes he can deliver it."

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Politics
After the Kremlin leader "challenged" him with recent claims of new nuclear weapons, President Donald Trump's public posture toward Russian President Vladimir Putin contrasts sharply with a growing private hawkish tone, according to NBC News.
vladimir putin, nuclear weapons, diplomats, expulsions
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2018-52-29
Thursday, 29 March 2018 08:52 PM
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