Monday, August 07, 2017

EDITORIAL >> Time to break ties with Russia

President Trump on Wednesday signed the sanctions bill against Russia, which Congress passed almost unanimously the week before. 

Trump will not criticize Putin and continues to blame Congress for soured relations with the Kremlin. Still no word from the White House on how the U.S. will retaliate against Vladimir Putin, who, after Congress passed the sanctions bill, expelled hundreds of American diplomats from Russia, along with scores of locals working in the U.S. Embassy and other diplomatic posts. Most of those Russians are spies for Moscow, so no big loss there.

Trump says some of the sanctions are too tough and his State Department will no longer support pro-democracy forces, including those fighting ISIS in Syria, for fear of offending Putin and his former KGB henchmen.

There’s no sentiment in Congress to go easy on Putin. The bill Trump signed was veto-proof and forbids him from ending sanctions without congressional approval. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who headed Exxon and received a freedom medal from Putin before he joined the administration, wants improved relations with Russia because of the company’s huge investments there. Some of Trump’s White House aides, including his son-in-law Jared Kushner, also have close ties to the Russians and hope to end sanctions, but the president’s national-security team, headed by Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, are in no mood to appease the Russians, especially while Special Counsel Robert Mueller closes in on the Trump team’s ties to Russia.

Russia declared war on America in the last election, and it will try to destabilize our nation in future elections. Putin’s plot against America stands exposed. He must be punished for his treachery. We should cut diplomatic relations with Putin and get out of Russia, leaving behind a skeleton diplomatic crew to help stranded tourists. Boycott Russia like North Korea.