National Security

White House walks back Haley announcement on Russian sanctions for chemical attack

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The Trump administration appears to be walking back U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley‘s announcement that the U.S. Treasury plans to issue additional sanctions on Russia following the suspected chemical weapons attack in Syria last week. 

On Sunday morning, Haley stated that sanctions against Moscow will “be coming down” on Monday. But roughly 24 hours later, the administration signaled they have not decided on a definite course of action.

“We are considering additional sanctions on Russia and a decision will be made in the near future,” said White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

Haley said in an appearance Sunday on CBS News’s “Face the Nation” that the sanctions are intended to punish Russia for its support for the Assad government after last week’s apparent chemical attack. Bodies of Syrian civilians were found foaming at the mouth, with some death count estimates ranging between 40 and 50 people.

Haley said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin would issue additional financial penalties against any companies conducting deals that supplied Syrian President Bashar Assad with equipment and sources for chemical weapons use in an effort to hit Russia for its involvement.

“So I think everyone is going to be feeling it at this point. I think everyone knows that we sent a strong message, and our hope is that they listen to us,” Haley told CBS. 

In response to the chemical attack, the U.S., United Kingdom and France on Friday night launched a flurry of missiles aimed at three targets in Syria.

Both the Syrian and Russian governments denied involvement in the chemical attack. The Kremlin additionally threatened that “chaos in international relations” would ensue if Western countries continued to strike Syria, according to reports.

The U.N. Security Council on Saturday voted against the Kremlin’s draft resolution that sought to condemn “the aggression against the Syrian Arab Republic by the U.S. and its allies in violation of international law and the U.N. Charter.”

While Trump has previously signed off on some sanctions aimed at Moscow, the president has largely been reluctant to criticize Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Tags Nikki Haley Steven Mnuchin

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