President Donald Trump’s senior adviser Kellyanne Conway said on Friday that removing US sanctions on Russia “is under consideration” by the administration.
When asked whether lifting the Obama administration’s sanctions on Russia would be “on the table” during Trump’s planned phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday, Conway said, “All of that is under consideration.”
“If another nation that has considerable resources wishes to join together with the United States of America to try to defeat and eradicate radical Islamic terrorism, then we’re listening,” Conway said on “Fox and Friends.” “It’s very important to at least have these conversations.”
President Barack Obama sanctioned Russia in 2014 over its annexation of Crimea and incursion into eastern Ukraine. He issued new sanctions against Russia late last month over its hacking related to the 2016 election, calling Moscow’s “malicious cyber-enabled activities” a “national emergency” aimed at undermining democratic processes.
Trump suggested in a recent interview with The Wall Street Journal that sanctions could be lifted if Moscow proved a useful ally in fighting terrorism.
“If you get along and if Russia is really helping us,” Trump said, “why would anybody have sanctions if somebody’s doing some really great things?”
Trump previously indicated that he was trying to forge a deal with Moscow to ease or remove sanctions in return for Russia reducing its nuclear arsenal. But Russia quickly denied that the size of its nuclear arsenal was ever up for negotiation.
Politico’s Susan Glasser reported on Thursday that an executive order to unilaterally lift sanctions on Russia had already been drafted.
“Don’t they have to change their behavior in order to get those sanctions lifted?” Fox hosts asked Conway. “By not carving up other countries and not destroying families and towns indiscriminately, like they’re doing in Syria?”
Conway said that Trump’s policy was “America first, and that includes in his foreign-policy and national-security moves.”
“Yes, he will call out other nations when he believes [that what they’re doing] is not in the American interest … in the interest of humanity,” Conway said. “But that’s what these conversations are for, these private conversations with world leaders.”