Most Americans believe Russia targeted US soldiers and want sanctions in response

Majority of Americans say Vladimir Putin is a 'threat' to the US

Graig Graziosi
Wednesday 08 July 2020 20:06
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Trump press secretary blames 'rogue intelligence officers' and NYT for Russia bounty leak

A majority of Americans want new sanctions against Russia in response to claims that the country paid Taliban fighters bounties for killing US troops in Afghanistan, according to a poll conducted by Reuters/Ipsos.

According to Reuters, the results suggest that Americans are "deeply suspicious" of Russia and are unhappy with President Donald Trump's response to the country, which has been accused of meddling in the 2016 US election, actively spreading disinformation over US social media, and now paying bounties for killing US soldiers.

Moscow has denied any involvement in any of the allegations.

The poll - taken on Monday and released on Wednesday - showed that 60 per cent of Americans found the Russian bounty story to be "very" or "somewhat" believable, while 21 per cent said they were not credible. The rest were unsure.

The New York Times's source for its story on the Russian bounties - an anonymous intelligence official - claimed that Mr Trump knew about the bounties for months but did nothing to stop them. Of the Reuters poll respondents, 39 per cent said they believed Mr Trump knew about the bounties, while 26 per cent believed he did not.

Most Americans polled - 81 per cent - said they viewed Russian President Vladimir Putin as a threat to the US. A subset of that group - 24 per cent - said Mr Putin is an "imminent threat."

More than half of the poll's respondents - 54 per cent - said the US should levy sanctions against Russia. Nine per cent supported military action against the country and another 9 per cent want the US government to try to improve relations with Moscow. The rest were unsure of the appropriate response.

The US has maintained sanctions against Russia since 2017 in response to the country's 2014 invasion of Ukraine.

The sanctions are levied against both individuals and entities, and include the banning of the country from obtaining oil and gas exploration technology, banning the extension of credit to Russian oil companies and state-maintained banks, and restricting the travel of influential Russians with ties to Mr Putin, particularly if they were involved with the invasion of Ukraine.

In 2019, additional individuals and entities were included in an updated list of Russian people and organisations under sanction.

Last week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called for additional sanctions to be placed on Russia, focusing on the country's intelligence and defence sectors.

"We had a strong bipartisan bill that was to be sent to the president but the White House said they wanted us to take out the sanctions on Russia that pertained to the intelligence and the defence sectors, the very sector that is accused of possible threats on our men and women in uniform," Ms Pelosi said. "We must restore those sanctions and we must act upon them."

After the Russian bounty story broke, Mr Trump claimed he hadn't been briefed on the situation because the claims weren't credible enough to reach his desk.

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