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Thursday, March 9, 2017

Trump Picks Hawkish Critic of Russia as NATO Ambassador, Veering From One Extreme to the Other

Trump Picks Hawkish Critic of Russia as NATO Ambassador, Veering From One Extreme to the Other

President Trump has reportedly tapped as his ambassador to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) a hawkish critic of Russia who wants the U.S. to arm Ukraine. It’s the latest sign that the administration is reacting to criticism that it is too soft on Russia by pivoting to the other extreme.
Richard Grennell is a former Bush-era U.S. spokesperson at the United Nations who also served as a foreign policy spokesperson for Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign. He frequently appears on Fox News and other conservative outlets saying President Obama appeased Russia.
Following Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the conflict in eastern Ukraine, Obama resisted political pressure from hawks in Congress to provide lethal arms to the Ukranian government, fearing that doing so would only cause Russia to escalate its own military involvement.
Writing in The New York Times’s Room for Debate section in 2014, Grenell said that Obama’s belief that the U.S. could “support Ukraine but not antagonize Russia” represented “a na├»ve and dangerous world view.” In a Fox News op-ed, he proposed military escalation: “Offer advice and training to Ukraine, and sell it the lethal weapons required to contend with Russian armored personnel carriers, tanks and missiles,” he wrote, adding that the U.S. should also restart missile defense shield programs in Poland and the Czech Republic.
Grennell also counseled Obama to leave directly military confrontation with Russia over Ukraine “on the table.”
“The Obama doctrine only persuades Putin that he need never fear the U.S. military — the world’s most powerful deterrent,” he wrote. “Even if Obama would never start a war with Russia, he should stop swearing off military action in public. Instead, President Obama, through his inexhaustible number of speeches and statements, should rhetorically leave military action on the table.”
Although his support for arming Ukraine stretches back years, Grenell was continuing to advocate for lethal aid for Ukraine as recently as Tuesday via his Twitter account, which he frequently uses to opine on world affairs:
Grenell is not the only Russia hawk to step into Trump’s orbit recently.

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