US rules out easing sanctions on Russia » Manila Bulletin News



By Agence France-Presse

Washington will not ease sanctions on Russia over the conflict in Ukraine and may even get tougher on Moscow, the White House said Friday, ending uncertainty over the US position on the thorny issue.

“We are not lowering our sanctions on Russia,” Gary Cohn, US President Donald Trump’s top economic advisor, told reporters at the G7 summit of leading industrialised nations in Sicily.

US President Donald Trump (L) speaks with President of the European Council Donald Tusk during the Heads of State and of Government G7 summit, on May 26, 2017 in Taormina, Sicily.

“If anything we would probably look to get tougher on Russia.”

The EU and United States under then president Barack Obama imposed sanctions on Moscow over its 2014 annexation of Crimea and fighting in eastern Ukraine between government forces and pro-Russia rebels.

But it has been unclear whether Obama’s successor Donald Trump, who is under fire domestically over allegations that Russia meddled to aid his election campaign last year, would maintain these sanctions.

Just Thursday evening, Cohn had said the United States did not yet “have a position” on the issue.

The affirmation of the US stance came as US media reported that the FBI was looking into the activities of Trump’s son-in-law and top aide, Jared Kushner, as part of the probe into possible Russian interference — drawing his family into the crisis.

European Union president Donald Tusk had earlier called on G7 leaders to maintain Russia sanctions.

“Since our last G7 summit in Japan, we haven’t seen anything that would justify a change in our sanctions policy towards Russia,” Tusk, who coordinates policy for the EU’s 28 leaders, told reporters.

“I will appeal to the other G7 leaders to reconfirm this policy,” he added before the latest summit of seven leading industrialised nations kicked off in the town of Taormina, with Trump one of four leaders new to the G7 party.

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