Report: Trump halts sanctions on Russia

Officials say Trump halted plan to impose additional economic sanctions on Russia in response to its continued support of the Assad regime.

Ben Ariel ,

Donald Trump
Donald Trump

U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday halted a preliminary plan to impose additional economic sanctions on Russia, walking back an announcement a day earlier by U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, The Washington Post reported.

On Sunday, Haley told CBS News in an interview that the U.S. is planning to a series of new sanctions against Russia, following the country’s continued support for the Assad regime in Syria, despite the Syrian military’s repeated use of chemical weapons on civilians.

Haley added the Trump administration would announce new sanctions against Russia to send a “strong message” regarding the consequences for regimes and the allies of regimes using banned chemical weapons.

The sanctions were to have been announced Monday by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, but Trump conferred with his national security advisers later Sunday and told them he was upset the sanctions were being officially rolled out because he was not yet comfortable executing them, according to several people familiar with the plan.

Administration officials said the economic sanctions were under serious consideration, along with other measures that could be taken against Russia, but said Trump had not given final authorization to implement them.

The officials said Monday it was unlikely Trump would approve any additional sanctions without another triggering event by Russia, describing the strategy as being in a holding pattern.

Sometime after Haley’s comments on CBS, the Trump administration notified the Russian Embassy in Washington that the sanctions were not in fact coming, a Russian Foreign Ministry official said Monday.

The Trump team decided to publicly characterize Haley’s announcement as a misstatement. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement Monday, “We are considering additional sanctions on Russia and a decision will be made in the near future.”

Asked Monday morning why it had taken 24 hours for the administration to walk back Haley’s comments, one White House official said only that there had been confusion internally about what the plan was.

Haley’s comments came a day after the U.S. led a missile strike on targets at three locations inside Syria, aimed at crippling the Assad’s regime to maintain its chemical weapon program.

The attack was prompted by the apparent use of chemical weapons against civilians in the city of Douma, east of Damascus, on April 7. The attack on the rebel-held city left dozens dead, and drew condemnations from Western powers, including the U.S., France, and Britain.