U.S. Challenges Russian Aggression in Ukraine

The United States military flew an “extraordinary” mission over Ukraine in a show of aggression against Russia. The Department of Defense announced the flyover, conducted under the Open Skies Treaty, as a protest of Russia’s aggressive posture toward Ukraine—particularly its seizure of three Ukrainian ships several weeks ago. President Trump added that he is not happy with Russia’s latest actions, and cancelled a planned meeting with Vladimir Putin at the G20 Summit last weekend.

—QUOTABLE: “Based on the fact that the ships and sailors have not been returned to Ukraine from Russia, I have decided it would be best for all parties concerned to cancel my previously scheduled meeting in Argentina with President Vladimir Putin. I look forward to a meaningful Summit again as soon as this situation is resolved!” -Trump on Twitter

—QUOTABLE: “Today the United States and Allies conducted an extraordinary flight under the Open Skies Treaty. The timing of this flight is intended to reaffirm U.S. commitment to Ukraine and other partner nations…Russia’s unprovoked attack on Ukrainian naval vessels in the Black Sea near the Kerch strait is a dangerous escalation in a pattern of increasingly provocative and threatening activity.” -Dept. of Defense

Pence Stares Down Putin at Summit

Vice President Mike Pence had something of a war of words with Chinese president Xi Jinping in dueling speeches over the weekend. At the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Papua New Guinea, President Xi said that tariffs were “short sighted” and “doomed to failure.” Moments later, Pence said the region’s countries should look to the Unites States as a “better option” compared with China’s heavy-handed approach to economic and diplomatic relations. The dueling speeches illustrate how far apart the U.S. and China remain on resolving an ongoing, but little discussed, trade war. Trump and Xi are set to meet a few weeks from now at the G-20 summit in Buenos Aires.

MEANWHILE—Pence gave Russian dictator—president—Vladimir Putin a cold stare at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit. Pence had warned Putin not to continue interfering in U.S. elections amid discussions of arms control and the upcoming G-20 Summit.

—QUOTABLE: “Look, we’ve been very clear about this administration’s commitment to ensure, whether it be Russia or other countries, that there’s no tolerance for meddling in our elections.” -Pence

Trump Toughens Stance On Russia

President Trump is changing his approach to Russia and scoring wins. German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced that her country will build a shipping depot for imported U.S. liquified natural gas, which has long been a Trump goal. That will help wean Germany off Russian LNG. Trump also went after a nuclear treaty between the U.S. and Russia that’s been in place for 31 years, accusing Vladimir Putin of violating the treaty—much to the Kremlin’s dismay. Trump says he’d like to have a chat with Putin at an upcoming conference in Paris.

—QUOTABLE: “The Russians have been violating INF for years, making this deal unsustainable. We need durable arms control agreements.” Rep. Edward R. Royce, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman

“Special Representative”

Actor STEVEN SEAGAL has been named a “special representative” by the Russian Foreign Ministry to promote humanitarian ties between Russia and the United States — whatever that means. Seagal says he’s “deeply humbled” by the job and said in a statement “we can strive for peace, harmony and positive result in the world.” He became a Russian citizen in 2016 and is a close personal friend of VLADIMIR PUTIN.
###