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Trump condemns Russian military campaign in Syria and says Putin’s nuclear arsenal should be reduced

President-elect accuses Obama of failing to restrain Putin and Assad 

Harry Cockburn
Monday 16 January 2017 00:49 GMT
Russia's nuclear arsenal should be 'reduced very substantially', Mr Trump said
Russia's nuclear arsenal should be 'reduced very substantially', Mr Trump said

Just one day after suggesting he may lift sanctions on Russia for US election-related hacking, Donald Trump has condemned Russia’s involvement in the Syrian conflict.

In an interview published in The Times with the UK’s former justice secretary Michael Gove, the President-elect blamed US President Barack Obama for not intervening further to prevent President Assad and Vladimir Putin carrying out attacks in Aleppo.

According to Mr Gove, Mr Trump was “unequivocal” in his condemnation of Mr Putin over his role in the conflict, despite reiterating his desire to improve the US’s relations with Russia.

Mr Trump said: “It’s a very bad thing, we had a chance to do something when we had the line in the sand and . . . nothing happened. That was the only time. And now, it’s sort of very late. It’s too late . . . But Aleppo was nasty.

He added: “I mean when you see them shooting old ladies walking out of town — they can’t even walk and they’re shooting ’em — it almost looks like they’re shooting ’em for sport — ah no, that’s . . . a terrible situation.”

In the interview, Mr Trump also said he would be willing to review Russia’s sanctions if Mr Putin reduced Russia’s nuclear arsenal.

He said: “They have sanctions on Russia — let’s see if we can make some good deals with Russia. For one thing, I think nuclear weapons should be way down and reduced very substantially, that’s part of it. But Russia’s hurting very badly right now because of sanctions, but I think something can happen that a lot of people are gonna benefit.”

In recent days Mr Trump’s relationship with Russia has come under greater scrutiny after the CIA warned Russia may hold more than one recording of compromising footage of Mr Trump, containing video and audio of a sexual nature, which could be used to blackmail him.

In addition, the President-elect’s team has given imprecise reports of its contact with the Russian administration, which has worried many in Washington, including Republicans.

Mr Trump’s team initially denied that national security adviser Michael Flynn and Russia’s ambassador Sergey Kislyak spoke on the day Mr Obama imposed sanctions last month, but later admitted that one call had been made on that day and another call made the day before.

However, it later emerged that as many as five calls were made between the pair on the day the sanctions were imposed.

The relationship has raised questions about whether repeated contact with the President-elect’s team has helped shape Moscow’s response to the imposition of sanctions.

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