In his final speech as President Trump’s national security advisor, Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster parted ways with the president’s softer approach to Russian diplomacy, setting his sights squarely on the recently re-elected Russian President, Vladimir Putin.
For too long, some nations have looked the other way in the face of these threats. Russia brazenly and implausibly denies its actions, and we have failed to impose sufficient costs,” McMaster said at an Atlantic Council dinner on Tuesday night.
The address, which was delivered before an audience that included diplomats hailing from all three Baltic nations, seemed to address not only Russia’s concerted effort to sew political discord in the United States, but the nation’s apparent brazen use of a Cold War era nerve agent in the attempted assassination of a former Russian military intelligence officer turned MI6 informant on British soil last month.
We are now engaged in a fundamental contest between our free and open societies and closed and repressive systems,” he said. “Revisionist and repressive powers are attempting to undermine our values, our institutions and way of life.”
Although the president himself has been hesitant to be publicly critical of Vladimir Putin, and has even admonished McMaster for doing so in the past via his Twitter account, McMaster did point out that the Trump administration has been taking action to address Russia’s aggression.
In the United States President Trump ordered the removal of dozens of Russian intelligence officers and the closure of the Russian consulate in Seattle. This action will also help protect our democratic institutions and processes as these Russian officers orchestrate Russia’s sustained campaign or propaganda, disinformation and political subversion,” he said.