Washington, Reuters, December 18, 2017 - US President Donald Trump’s administration named Russia on Monday as a bad actor on the world stage in a policy document that offers a sober analysis of Moscow as a rival despite Trump’s own bid for warmer ties with President Vladimir Putin.
The criticism of Russia, laid out in a new national security strategy formed from Trump’s “America First” foreign policy vision, reflects a view long held by American diplomats that Russia actively undermines US interests at home and abroad.
Excerpts of the strategy document released on Monday made no direct mention of US allegations that Russia meddled in last year’s presidential election.
A US federal investigation is also looking into whether Trump campaign aides colluded with Russia, something the Moscow and Trump deny.
Trump has frequently spoken of his desire for an improved relationship with Putin, even though Russia has frustrated US ambitions in Syria and Ukraine and done little to help Washington in its standoff with North Korea.
In the second such call in under a week, Putin spoke to Trump on Sunday to thank him for providing US intelligence that helped thwart a bomb attack in the Russian city of St. Petersburg. On Thursday, Putin and Trump discussed the crisis in North Korea.
Congress mandates that every US administration sets out its national security strategy. The new Trump strategy is influenced strongly by the thinking of top national security officials rather than that of the president himself, said one official involved in preparing the document.
Talking points sent to US embassies worldwide on what diplomats should say about the new strategy makes clear that the official US position is tough on Russia.
An unclassified State Department cable, seen by Reuters, said: “Russia tries to weaken the credibility of America’s commitment to Europe. With its invasions of Georgia and Ukraine, Russia has demonstrated a willingness to use force to challenge the sovereignty of states in the region.
“While things with Moscow might be warm and fuzzy for the moment, President Putin will not take too kindly to being labeled as what essentially amounts to as an enemy of America,” said Harry Kazianis, an analyst at the conservative Center for the National Interest think tank.
Trump’s strategy reflects his “America First” priorities of protecting the US homeland and borders, rebuilding the US military, projecting strength abroad and pursuing trade policies more favorable to the United States, according to excerpts made available by the White House.