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Democratic senator urges Trump to respond to Russian aggression

Democratic senator urges Trump to respond to Russian aggression
© Aaron Schwartz

Sen. Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenSenate approves sweeping coronavirus measure in partisan vote The eight Democrats who voted 'no' on minimum wage Justice Democrats call moderates' votes against minimum wage hike 'unconscionable' MORE (D-N.H.) is sounding the alarm over what she says is a failure of the Trump administration to adequately rebuke Russia for "escalatory aggression and harmful actions" against U.S. forces in various countries.

In a letter to Secretary of State Mike PompeoMike PompeoIt will be Vice (or) President Harris against Gov. DeSantis in 2024 — bet on it DeSantis, Pence tied in 2024 Republican poll Pompeo not ruling out 2024 White House bid MORE, Shaheen pointed to incidents last month between U.S. and Russian troops, including a collision between Russian and U.S. military vehicles in Syria on Aug. 25 and an incident three days later in which two Russian planes crossed within 100 feet of a U.S. bomber over the Black Sea.

The New Hampshire Democrat, who is a member of the Senate Foreign Relations and Armed Services committees, also cited reports from June that a Russian military unit was offering rewards to Taliban-linked militants in Afghanistan to kill coalition forces, including U.S. troops, in the country.

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“The policies of this administration have empowered Russia to brazenly disregard international conventions and institutions that have long been upheld by American leadership," Shaheen wrote in Thursday's letter. "Instead, this administration has given the green light to Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinWhite House calls Microsoft email breach an 'active threat' As gas prices soar, Americans can blame Joe Biden How to think about Russia MORE to attack American soldiers, pay bounties for their deaths, meddle in democratic elections and disregard basic human rights in Russia and around the world."

President TrumpDonald TrumpBiden to sign executive order aimed at increasing voting access Albany Times Union editorial board calls for Cuomo's resignation Advocates warn restrictive voting bills could end Georgia's record turnout MORE has dismissed the reports about bounties as “fake news.” The White House has said no action was taken because officials didn’t consider the intelligence credible enough to share with the president, even though it was in a written briefing for Trump in February.

Pompeo has said that both the State Department and Pentagon have warned Russia against the suspected bounties.

Shaheen argued that because Trump has refused to take action following such reports, Russia is now emboldened to "endanger the lives of our troops in other theaters."

The recent tensions between Washington and Moscow come as Trump has ordered the Pentagon to slash the number of U.S. troops stationed in Germany by more than a third, which Shaheen said is likely to "further limit U.S. operations around the world and that the Kremlin has vocally and explicitly welcomed."

Lawmakers in both parties have harshly criticized Trump's decision, but his administration argues that Germany is no longer a front-line country, calling the move a strategic realignment of forces that had been in the works for months.

Trump, meanwhile, has repeatedly referred to the move as punishment for Germany not fulfilling NATO’s goal of each member state spending at least 2 percent of their gross domestic product on defense.