Britain says Trump's position shifting on Russia
By David Mardiste
Britain's Defence Secretary Michael Fallon speaks during the official ceremony welcoming the deployment of a multi-national NATO battalion in Tapa, Estonia, April 20, 2017. REUTERS/Ints Kalnins
TAPA, Estonia (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump's administration is shifting its stance on Russia and now sees Moscow as a competitor, Britain's defence minister said on Thursday during a trip to the Baltic states designed to underline NATO's new deterrent forces.
In his election campaign last year Trump voiced admiration for President Vladimir Putin, and contacts between his aides and Russia before and after the November vote prompted concerns in Europe that the U.S. leader would seek a deal with Moscow.
But Britain's Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said Washington was now more cautious about the chances of better relations with the Kremlin.
"The American defence secretary and the American secretary of state are under no illusions of how we have to deal with Russia now as a competitor," Fallon told reporters in Tapa, Estonia, just 150 kilometres (93 miles) from the Russian border.
In his first European interview before taking office, Trump proposed to end U.S. sanctions against Russia in return for a nuclear arms reduction deal with Putin.
That went against the previous U.S. administration's position. The West had argued that economic sanctions on Russia could only be dropped if Russia withdrew from Ukraine's Crimea peninsula and stopped supporting separatists in eastern Ukraine.
"We have to engage with Russia," Fallon said of Europe's biggest energy supplier. "We have to talk with Russia where necessary, but we also have to beware. We are at one in our approach to Russia and the potential threats that Russia embodies," Fallon added.
Fallon was attending a welcoming parade for a new NATO battle group in Estonia, part of a wider alliance strategy to deter Russia from repeating its 2014 annexation of Crimea in the Baltics and Poland.
Russia has condemned the deterrent as part of an aggressive strategy on its frontiers.
(Writing by Robin Emmott; Editing by Gareth Jones)
Iran was behind cyber attack on British lawmakers in June - The Times Cables and computers are seen inside a data centre at an office in the heart of the financial district in London, Britain May 15, 2017. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez LONDON (Reuters) - Iran carried out a cyber attack on British...READ MORE...
China confirms will amend party constitution, likely to include Xi's theories A picture shows Chinese President Xi Jinping's portrait during an exhibition displaying China's achievements for the past five years, as a part of the celebrations of the upcoming 19th National Congress of the Communist...READ MORE...
Gunmen attack Kenyan school, killing six children: officials NAIROBI (Reuters) - Seven people, six of them children, were killed in northern Kenya on Saturday when unknown assailants attacked a school, officials said. Cattle rustling and clashes over grazing and farming land are relatively common...READ MORE...
U.S.-backed SDF to let Syrian Islamic State fighters leave RaqqaBy John Davison and Tom Perry Children play inside a truck at a refugee camp for people displaced because of fightings between the Syrian Democratic Forces and Islamic State militants in Ain Issa, Syria October 14, 2017. REUTERS/Erik...READ MORE...