DailyMail

'Putin is testing you', McCain tells Trump as he asks the president to let Ukraine arm itself against Russian attacks which started after [both] leaders spoke


Putin is Testing You, John McCain to Trump.

By Geoff Earle, Deputy U.S Political Editor for Dailymail.com

Published: 13:55 EST, 2 February 2017
Updated: 01:03 EST, 3 February 2017






Senator John McCain has written President Donald Trump to call out Russian attempts to "dismember" Ukraine through new attacks, and warning that his new administration is being tested by President Vladimir Putin.

He wrote after Russian artillery fired on Ukrainian positions, reigniting the conflict and killing as many as a dozen soldiers.

"In the first of what will be many tests for your new administration, Russia and its proxy forces launched attacks against Ukrainian forces this week, killing at least seven Ukrainian soldiers and wounding dozens more," McCain wrote.

"That this surge of attacks began the day after he talked with you by phone is a clear indication that Vladimir Putin is moving quickly to test you as commander-in-chief. America's response will have lasting consequences," McCain continued.

Senator John McCain is warning President Trump in a letter that Russian shelling of Ukrainian positions is the first of "many tests" his administration will face

Senator John McCain is warning President Trump in a letter that Russian shelling of Ukrainian positions is the first of "many tests" his administration will face

McCain's letter to President Trump came on a day when the Treasury Department relaxed sanctions on Russia's security services in what the White House said was just an ordinary technical correction

McCain's letter to President Trump came on a day when the Treasury Department relaxed sanctions on Russia's security services in what the White House said was just an ordinary technical correction

The international body monitoring violations of the Minsk agreement reported at least 2,300 explosions from artillery, mortars and rocket fire on Sunday alone, the day after the Trump-Putin call. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said this was a sharp increase from the intermittent shelling that marks an ordinary day long the front, but that the fighting was so intense it could not properly keep count.

An official White House readout of the Saturday call did not mention Ukraine, the subject ongoing tension after a Russian incursion, calling it a "congratulatory call" about "topics from mutual cooperation in defeating ISIS to efforts in working together to achieve more peace throughout the world including Syria."

McCain is an ardent Putin foe who had considered holding up Trump's new secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, over his ties to the Russian strongman.

"Vladimir Putin's violent campaign to destabilize and dismember the sovereign nation of Ukraine will not stop unless and until he meets a strong and determined response," McCain wrote.


Trump on Putin: "I hope we have a fantastic relationship"


Tanks are seen in the government-held industrial town of Avdiyivka, Ukraine
Russian tanks are seen in the government-held industrial town of Avdiyivka, Ukraine


Crew members prepare tanks in the government-held industrial town of Avdiyivka, Ukraine
Crew members prepare tanks in the government-held industrial town of Avdiyivka, Ukraine


Russian President Vladimir Putin made a "congratulatory" (2-hour) phone call to President Donald Trump on Saturday (29 Jan 2017),
the day before the shelling and rocket attacks heated up
Russian President Vladimir Putin made a


"Therefore, in light of the latest Russian attacks and the prospect of future aggression against Ukraine, I urge you to exercise the authority given to you by the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017 to provide defensive lethal assistance to Ukraine to defend its territory against further violations by Russia and its separatist proxies."

McCain also weighed in on U.S. and international sanctions on Russia, on a day when the Treasury Department rolled back restrictions on Russia's security service in what the Trump administration says was a routine technical correction.

"So long as Russia continues to occupy Crimea and destabilize Ukraine, I implore you to maintain current sanctions against Russia. And based on Russia's attempted interference in our elections, I urge you to expand current sanctions against Russia," he wrote.

McCain described the arms issue as part of the nation's "proud history" of allowing free people to defend themselves.

"Ukrainians are not asking Americans to do their fighting. Nearly 10,000 Ukrainians have died to protect their homeland and many more are serving and have sacrificed for the cause of a free and united Ukraine," he wrote. "But America does have a proud history of helping free people to defend themselves. We should do so once more by giving our Ukrainian friends the assistance they need and deserve. Failing to do so now not only risks Ukraine's sovereignty, but the further erosion of American credibility."

The positive call was a significant start to improving the relationship between the United States and Russia that is in need of repair. Both President Trump and President Putin are hopeful that after today's call the two sides can move quickly to tackle terrorism and other important issues of mutual concern. Russian artillery and rockets were hammering Ukrainian positions in the East, as the conflict began to heat up again.

The international group that monitors an agreement for the protection of Ukraine, which gave up its nuclear arms under U.S. pressure, reported at least 2,300 explosions from artillery and other rocker fire on Sunday — the day after the Trump call — Yahoo News reported.

This was an escalation from intermittent shelling that has occurred. Kiev and NATO allies are fearful that the U.S. could pull back from its commitment to support Ukraine in its efforts.

Since the Russian invasion in 2014, the U.S. has made multiple efforts to bolster Ukraine and Eastern European allies through official visits, arms shipments, military exercises, and statements of support.

The official White House readout of the call proclaimed a "significant start" to an "improving relationship."


WHITE HOUSE READOUT ON TRUMP-PUTIN CALL SATURDAY
President Donald J. Trump received a congratulatory call today from Russian President Vladimir Putin. The call lasted approximately one hour and ranged in topics from mutual cooperation in defeating ISIS to efforts in working together to achieve more peace throughout the world, including Syria.

McCain also spoke Thursday with Joe Hockey, the Australian ambassador to the United States, following reports that Trump berated Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull over a deal for the U.S. to accept refugees held in Australia.

McCain expressed his "unwavering support for the U.S.-Australia alliance," according to a statement his office released.

The chairman of the Armed Services Committee mentioned "deepening cooperation" between the two countries.

The U.S. Treasury Department on Thursday eased economic sanctions put in place last year by the Obama administration against the Russian FSB — the state intelligence agency.


The FSB is Russia's successor to the Soviet-era KGB, its feared and storied spy agency.

The FSB is Russia's successor to the Soviet-era KGB,
its feared and storied spy agency

But president Donald Trump told reporters hours later in the Roosevelt Room of the White House: "I"m not easing anything!"

A memorandum from Treasury's Office of Foreign Asset Control described specific sanctions being rolled back despite accusations last year that Moscow had launched cyber attacks to try to influence the U.S. presidential election.

The Treasury Department said in a statement that the move will would allow U.S. companies to make limited transactions with the intelligence service that are needed to gain approval to import information technology products into Russia.

A White House spokesman insisted the decision reflected "a fairly common practice" following the implementation of international sanctions regimes.

"We're not easing sanctions," White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters during an abbreviated daily briefing.

"From what I understand ... it's a fairly common practice for the Treasury Department after sanctions are put in place, to go back and to look at whether or not there needs to be specific carve-outs for different, you know, either industries, or products and services that need to be going back and forth," he said.


src: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4185440/Putin-testing-McCain-tells-Trump.html







EXCERPT FROM YAHOO! NEWS


Putin Testing Trump Early With Ukraine Attacks

Paul McLeary
Foreign Policy Magazine — February 1, 2017



After the two presidents spoke by phone this weekend, attacks on government-held territories in Ukraine have skyrocketed.

The Trump administration is facing its first major test on the international stage as volleys of Russian artillery and rockets continue to pound Ukrainian forces in the country's contested east, reigniting the frozen conflict and killing about a dozen Ukrainian soldiers since Sunday.

The barrages, along with renewed pushes by Russian-backed separatists and Ukrainian forces near the government-held industrial town of Avdiyivka, spiked dramatically on Sunday. The day before, Presidents Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin held their first phone call, reportedly talking about forming a new alliance against the Islamic State and working together on a range of other issues.

The international body tasked with monitoring violations of the Minsk agreement reported at least 2,300 explosions from artillery, mortars and rocket fire on Sunday alone, the day after the Trump-Putin call. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said this was a sharp increase from the intermittent shelling that marks an ordinary day long the front, but that the fighting was so intense it could not properly keep count.

Ukrainian forces also appear to be advancing into the no-man's land separating government-controlled territory from rebel-held areas, in what seems a bid to strengthen their bargaining position if they have to go back to the negotiating table again with a weaker hand.

Trump's affinity for Russia, and his phone call Saturday with Putin, has stoked fear in Kiev and among NATO allies that Trump could strike a deal with Moscow that would mean less U.S. support for the Ukrainian government, and potentially give Russia a freer hand in its destabilization efforts there.

One U.S. defense official, speaking with Foreign Policy on the condition of anonymity, said the Pentagon has long been anticipating an uptick in Russian aggression in Ukraine as Moscow tries to gauge "what they could accomplish" under the Trump administration.

[...]

It's not just Ukrainians who wonder about U.S. resolve in the face of a Russian challenge. American and German tanks — along with thousands of other NATO troops — are taking up positions in NATO's Baltic countries to reassure locals nervous about the prospect of Russian aggression. The temporary deployments were planned during the Obama administration, but could now be cut back.

During the campaign, Trump harshly criticized U.S. troop deployments in Europe, saying that the Europeans should pay for their own defense. [...]


src: https://www.yahoo.com/news/putin-testing-trump-early-ukraine-202515101.html

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