Haley marooned on call of new Russian sanctions
WASHINGTON: The White House scrambled yesterday to walk back UN ambassador Nikki Haley’s announcement that new economic sanctions against Russia are imminent, but stressed the penalties were still being considered.
Mrs Haley created a firestorm on Monday when she said the new sanctions would be imposed by the Treasury Department yesterday, when, in fact, no such announcement was planned, according to two officials familiar with the matter.
In a statement, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders tried to clarify the situation, but her explanation created more confusion and led to suggestions that President Donald Trump had personally intervened to halt the sanctions from taking effect yesterday.
“We are considering additional sanctions on Russia and a decision will be made in the near future,” Ms Sanders said.
The two officials said Ms Haley had misspoken when she said on CBS’s Face the Nation that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin would announce the sanctions yesterday “if he hasn’t already”,
Ms Haley said the sanctions would target those who are enabling Syrian leader Bashar Assad’s regime to continue using chemical weapons.
The two officials said the administration had no plans to announce Syria-related sanctions on Russia this week, although they noted that two entities were hit with such penalties last month in a largely overlooked portion of a sanctions package that dealt mainly with Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and hacking.
After Ms Haley’s comments, some in the administration suggested the sanctions now being considered could be rolled out yesterday. But others said it would be wiser and more effective to wait for a period longer than three days after the US, British and French infuriated Russia with their missile strikes on Syria on Saturday.
The officials could not say when the new sanctions would be announced.
President Donald Trump continued to hail the missile attack as perfectly carried out. On Saturday US, French and British warplanes and ships launched 105 missiles nearly unopposed by Syrian air defences. While he declared success, the Pentagon said the pummelling of three chemical-related facilities left enough others intact to enable Assad to again use banned weapons against civilians.
Nikki Haley listens to her Syrian counterpart