Rus­sia to face new U.S. penal­ties

Macron takes credit for Trump turn­around

The Washington Post - - FRONT PAGE - BY CAROL MORELLO AND JAMES MCAU­LEY

The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion sig­naled Sun­day that it will im­pose new sanc­tions as soon as this week on Rus­sia for sup­port­ing the Syr­ian regime as it al­legedly con­ducted a deadly chem­i­cal attack against its own peo­ple.

The U.S. am­bas­sador to the United Na­tions, Nikki Ha­ley, an­nounced the sanc­tions and Pres­i­dent Trump’s com­mit­ment to stay­ing in­volved in the Syria cri­sis hours be­fore French Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron took credit for help­ing turn around Trump’s plan to with­draw U.S. troops.

“Ten days ago, Pres­i­dent Trump was say­ing that the United States would dis­en­gage from Syria,” Macron said Sun­day night. “We con­vinced him that it was nec­es­sary to stay there longterm.”

Ha­ley, speak­ing on CBS News’s “Face the Nation,” sug­gested that there are no plans to pare down the U.S. pres­ence in Syria any­time soon. On “Fox News Sun­day,” Ha­ley said troop with­drawal would come af­ter three goals

had been ac­com­plished: de­feat­ing Is­lamic State mil­i­tants, en­sur­ing that chem­i­cal weapons will not be used, and main­tain­ing the abil­ity to watch Iran.

The aim, she said, is “to see Amer­i­can troops come home, but we are not go­ing to leave un­til we know we have ac­com­plished those things.”

The White House on Sun­day did not im­me­di­ately ad­dress Macron’s com­ments, made dur­ing a tele­vised de­bate with two jour­nal­ists.

Ha­ley, the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s most prom­i­nent diplo­matic voice un­til a new sec­re­tary of state is con­firmed, said the new round of sanc­tions will tar­get Rus­sian com­pa­nies that have helped the gov­ern­ment of Syr­ian Pres­i­dent Bashar al-As­sad make and de­ploy chem­i­cal weapons. A sus­pected chem­i­cal weapons attack April 7 spurred the United States and its al­lies to launch more than 100 mis­siles at Syria over the week­end.

“You will see that Rus­sian sanc­tions will be com­ing down,” Ha­ley said.

Trea­sury Sec­re­tary Steven Mnuchin “will be an­nounc­ing those Mon­day, if he hasn’t al­ready,” she added. “And they will go di­rectly to any sort of com­pa­nies that were deal­ing with equip­ment re­lated to As­sad and chem­i­cal weapons use. I think ev­ery­one is go­ing to feel it at this point. I think ev­ery­one knows that we sent a strong mes­sage, and our hope is that they lis­ten to it.”

Ha­ley has been one of the strong­est voices ac­cus­ing Rus­sia of en­abling the Syr­ian gov­ern­ment in its al­leged use of chem­i­cal weapons in the civil war, which is in its sev­enth year. Rus­sia has ve­toed at least six res­o­lu­tions in the U.N. Se­cu­rity Coun­cil re­gard­ing chem­i­cal weapons. The Rus­sian ve­toes have been one of the main ir­ri­tants in strained relations be­tween Washington and Moscow, with Western diplo­mats ac­cus­ing Rus­sia of try­ing to pro­tect the As­sad gov­ern­ment.

The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion has placed sanc­tions on Rus­sian in­di­vid­u­als and en­ti­ties, in­clud­ing penal­ties tar­get­ing Rus­sian oli­garchs who are close to Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin. The roll­out of new sanc­tions is usu­ally closely guarded, in part to pre­vent peo­ple sub­jected to them from quickly mov­ing their money around. The Trea­sury Depart­ment does not com­ment on pend­ing sanc­tions.

Ha­ley spoke less than two days af­ter the United States, France and Bri­tain struck at three fa­cil­i­ties that the ad­min­is­tra­tion called the “heart” of Syria’s chem­i­cal weapons pro­gram. But it is un­clear how much ca­pac­ity Syria re­tains to pro­duce chem­i­cal weapons and whether the strikes chipped away at the gov­ern­ment’s politi- cal will to de­ploy them.

For the near fu­ture, the strikes in­di­cate that the White House has no in­ten­tion of with­draw­ing 2,000 U. S. troops cur­rently in Syria, as Trump sug­gested on April 3 that he in­tends to do.

Macron, ap­pear­ing on tele­vi­sion in Paris, sug­gested that he had played a key role in per­suad­ing Trump both to act in Syria and to sta­bi­lize the re­gion long-term.

His com­ments were not a for­mal dec­la­ra­tion, and it was not im­me­di­ately clear what Macron meant by say­ing that he per­suaded Trump to “stay there.” Im­me­di­ately af­ter the re­mark, he em­pha­sized the pre­cise, tar­geted na­ture of the strike, which oc­curred early Satur­day lo­cal time.

“We con­vinced him to limit the strikes to chem­i­cal weapons when, at the same time, there was a burst of tweets that did not es­cape you,” Macron said.

A spokesman for the El­y­see Palace did not im­me­di­ately re­turn sev­eral re­quests for fur­ther com­ment.

Macron — in re­sponse to crit­i­cal ques­tions about the le­gal­ity of the mis­sion — in­sisted that it was a mat­ter of “in­ter­na­tional le­git­i­macy,” if not in­ter­na­tional le­gal­ity. The “very pre­cise” op­er­a­tion was also car­ried out with­out declar­ing war on the As­sad regime or en­gen­der­ing any col­lat­eral dam­age with re­gard to the Rus­sians, he said.

As the com­ing sanc­tions un­der­score, the United States will con­tinue to bear down on Rus­sia over its on­go­ing sup­port of the As­sad gov­ern­ment and to prod it to rid Syria of chem­i­cal weapons, as Moscow com­mit­ted to do in a 2013 agree­ment ne­go­ti­ated with the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion.

On “Fox News Sun­day,” Ha­ley again slammed Rus­sia, ac­cus­ing it of en­abling the Syr­ian gov­ern­ment to use chem­i­cal weapons with­out wor­ry­ing about blow­back from the United Na­tions.

“As­sad knew that Rus­sia had its back, As­sad knew that Rus­sia would cover for them at the United Na­tions, and As­sad got reck­less, and he used it in a way that was far more ag­gres­sive,” she said. “We have to be con­scious of the fact that we can’t al­low even the small­est use of chem­i­cal weapons.”

Ha­ley said Trump is pre­pared to strike Syria again if that hap­pens, though she de­clined to say how the United States would re­spond to the use of con­ven­tional weapons.

“We of course know that our work in Syria is not done,” she said. “We know that it is now up to Bashar al-As­sad on whether he’s go­ing to use chem­i­cal weapons again. And should he use it again, the pres­i­dent has made it very clear that the United States is locked and loaded and ready to go.”

“We con­vinced him to limit the strikes to chem­i­cal weapons.” French Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron

HAS­SAN AM­MAR/AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

A sus­pected chem­i­cal weapons attack April 7 spurred the United States and its al­lies to launch more than 100 mis­siles at Syria early Satur­day. A new round of U.S. sanc­tions will tar­get Rus­sian com­pa­nies that have helped Syria make and de­ploy chem­i­cal...

ED­UARDO MUNOZ/REUTERS

Nikki Ha­ley, the U.S. am­bas­sador to the United Na­tions, said U.S. troop with­drawal will come af­ter sev­eral goals have been achieved.

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