In the aftermath of Robert Mueller’s indictment against 13 Russian “operatives” for meddling with the US presidential election, President Trump has been under fire for lashing out at everyone… except Russia. So, in response, Bloomberg reports that the Trump administration is weighing citing the deaths of more than 200 Russian fighters – or rather mercenaries – in Syria, who were killed following US strikes on February 7, as an example of Trump’s tough stance toward Russia.
Recall that last week, “more than 200 mercenaries, mostly Russians fighting on behalf of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, died in a failed attack on a base and refinery held by U.S. and U.S.-backed forces in the oil-rich Deir Ezzor region” In terms of total body count, the U.S. official put the death toll at about 100, with 200 to 300 injured; while Russia admitted that Russians were killed, it said the number was five and denied that the men killed were officially sanctioned Russian troops.
It is this attack that Trump hopes to use as proof of his administration’s determination to show a “hard line” stance toward Putin.
On Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders made an oblique reference to “an incident” as she argued that President Donald Trump has been tougher on Russia than his predecessor Barack Obama. And, according to Bloomberg, she was alluding to the Syria battle – an episode which as we suggested last week threatened to further deteriorate relations with Moscow, as it would put the onus on Putin to respond to what Trump will deem an official Russian provocation.
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