Trump Should Cancel His Meeting with Putin Until Russia Changes its Behavior or his Administration Condemns Russia
Washington, DC – Today, Reps. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Adam Smith (D-WA), House Committee on Foreign Affairs Ranking Member Eliot Engel (D-NY) and 13 other Democrats wrote to President Trump requesting that his meeting with President Vladimir Putin of Russia be canceled until Russia changes its behavior or his Administration condemns Russia’s destabilizing actions. Their letter comes as the Department of Justice announces the indictment of 12 Russian military intelligence officers involved in hacking the Democratic National Committee (DNC).
A proven adversary of the United States, Russia has interfered in the U.S. elections, violated dozens of international norms, and attacked several sovereign nations without cause. In their letter, the Members document the long list of transgressions that Russia has inflicted on democracies, civilians, journalists, and commerce around the world. The Representatives stress that absent a strong voice of condemnation, U.S. adversaries will learn that they can have normal relations with Washington without respecting human rights, civil rights, and the will of free peoples around the world. For that reason, they argue that the upcoming meeting with Vladimir Putin should be canceled.
The signed letter can be viewed here. Full text below.
July 13, 2018
Dear President Trump:
We write to express concern regarding your planned meeting with Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Federation. It is important to maintain a dialogue with Russia, but we are concerned that President Putin will only offer his now-familiar lies and empty promises. A friendly meeting, especially after needlessly antagonizing our NATO allies, should be reserved for those who have demonstrated a willingness to act in good faith. As Russia continues to act in bad faith and against American interests, this meeting should be canceled.
Russia is a threat to the world. Russia disrupts democracy and commerce in the United States and around the globe, lends support to dictators, and attacks nations without provocation. Russia’s most recent egregious actions – confirmed by public reports and the Intelligence Community – include:
- Interference in the elections and democratic institutions of the United States and our allies;
- Cyber-attacks to cripple American commerce and steal national security secrets;
- Support for Iran, including via weapons sales;
- Illegal occupation of Crimea, sponsorship of the separatist rebellion in eastern Ukraine, and occupation of Abkhazia and South Ossetia in Georgia and of Transnistria in Moldova;
- Sponsorship of an attempted coup in Montenegro;
- Support for Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, including his murder of thousands of civilians;
- Jailing and murder of journalists, whistleblowers, and political opponents;
- Fielding of weapons in violation of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty; and
- Poisoning of civilians with military-grade nerve agents in the United Kingdom.
Meeting with President Putin without an improvement in his behavior or strong U.S. condemnation of Russian malign activity signals that the United States is unwilling or incapable of opposing destructive behavior by rogue states. A friendly meeting shows that our adversaries can have normal relations with Washington without respecting the Geneva Conventions, the Helsinki Accords, or internationally recognized treaties that they have signed, such as the Convention on Chemical Weapons.
Addressing these issues is the only way to improve U.S.-Russia relations consistent with U.S. interests. President Putin must understand that interference in democratic institutions via media manipulation, criminal networks and blackmail will be met with severe consequences. Russia must suffer sanctions for its invasion of Georgia, Ukraine, and Moldova, and be punished for attacking Estonia and other NATO allies. Finally, Moscow must be deterred from ignoring agreements that it has signed, including the Minsk Accords, the Framework for Elimination of Syrian Chemical Weapons and the INF Treaty.
Many presidents have offered Moscow an olive branch, but Russia has refused it at every opportunity. No patriot desires conflict with Russia, but its failure to work with the United States, our allies, and international institutions – and rather to attack them – renders President Putin unworthy of your time as president of a strong, proud, and principled nation such as ours.