Even though the left-wing media will never give him credit, President Trump has been far tougher on Russia than his predecessor, Barack Obama.
For starters, it was President Obama who, according to Reuters, was “caught on camera” saying to a Russian leader that he’ll have more flexibility after the election — not President Trump.
The fact is, President Trump has been quite tough on Russia.
So much so, the sanctions resemble a Russian nesting doll: one sanction of top of another, on top of another.
Just last April, the Trump administration imposed new sanctions on Russia — including strict sanctions on seven of Russia’s richest individuals and 17 top government officials for their interference in our elections.
The sanctions directly penalized President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle by prohibiting them from traveling to the United States ever again. He did this by opening a bank account in the West, preventing them from doing business with the West and prohibiting anyone else to do business on their behalf.
The sanctions were significant — among the toughest sanctions ever placed on individuals in a foreign country, with the exception of perhaps Iran and North Korea. Yet like many of Trump’s successes, it received minimal mainstream media coverage.
During his first month in office in January 2017, President Trump upheld strict sanctions to punish Russia for its unlawful 2014 annexation of Crimea. With those sanctions, the Trump administration punished more than three dozen individuals and organizations that were behind the invasion of Ukraine.
Even Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin had a hand in the actions, stating that there would be no easing of the sanctions until Russia meets its obligations under the 2015 Minsk agreement — the ceasefire agreement between Russia and Ukraine.
In August 2017, Trump signed a bill slapping even more sanctions on Russia — this time specifically aimed at the country’s energy and defense industries. Congress made the legislation Trump-proof, meaning that no executive order could ever undo such sanctions; yet Trump signed it anyway.
In fact it was Trump — not Obama — who ordered the closure of Russian diplomatic properties in San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and New York City that appeared to be a threat to American security.
It was also President Trump who shuttered the Russian consulate in Seattle.
To be sure, Obama kicked 35 Russian diplomats out of the country after suspected election meddling by Russia, but only after Trump won the 2016 election. It is questionable whether he would have done so had Hillary Clinton succeeded in being the victor.
Furthermore, it was President Trump who led the world in expelling Russian diplomats after the Russian government was suspected of carrying out a nerve agent attack in the United Kingdom against one of their former spies. President Trump moved swiftly to expel 60 Russian diplomats from U.S. soil, and other countries followed suit by expelling dozens as well.
In addition to stringent sanctions, President Trump has also called out Russia publicly.
During a landmark speech last year in Poland, Trump lambasted Russia for using oil to hold NATO’s Eastern European countries hostage. Trump underscored the dangers of those countries’ dependence on Russian oil deliveries to keep their people warm during the winter, leading to their inability to criticize Russia the rest of the year.
The Trump administration even offered to help identify alternative energy sources for the region. Trump’s remarks on European soil was the energy industry equivalent of Reagan’s “tear down that wall” speech.
Compare all of the above actions to Obama’s milquetoast policy on Russia and outright appeasement on issues such as the “red line” that Russia blew right past in Syria. Obama’s lackluster track record with Russia is in stark contrast to the Trump administration that has already, in its first 18 months, surpassed what Obama did over a total of eight years.