The most verbally belligerent president in history—who has abusive things to say about allies like Japan, South Korea, and Canada—cannot summon up any harsher adjective for a nerve attack on NATO soil than “sad.” Today’s tentative words and belated actions are already being hailed by Trump partisans as proof that at last the president has gotten tough. The Republican National Committee released a statement today hailing Trump’s “TOUGH ON RUSSIA RECORD.”
The balance of forces within the Trump administration apparently does not forbid all criticism of Russia or Vladimir Putin. Nor does the president veto all actions against Russia. While the president still refuses to implement the sanctions voted on to punish Russia from intervening in the 2016 election, he has allowed other sanctions to go forward and has sold lethal weapons to Ukraine.