After Helsinki summit, President of the United States Donald Trump is facing criticism from all sides for his stance against Russia and its President Vladimir Putin. In an effort to stave off some of the attacks, POTUS said on Monday that the White House doesn’t plan on easing up sanctions against Kremlin.
Replying to President Putin’s demand to lift them, Trump said: “Sanctions on Russia will remain as is.” He also used the opportunity to take a swing at Germany, slamming that country for importing Russia’s natural gas and not spending enough on defense, failing to reach NATO’s recommendation on the military budget size of 2% of the GDP. These attacks have become a constant trope for Trump and are mostly aimed at German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
The statement came after Italy’s prime minister Giuseppe Conte said that lifting of the European Union’s sanctions imposed against Russia over Crimea annexation is “unthinkable.” Not all members of the Italian government agree with him, though. His coalition, comprised of the anti-establishment Five Star Movement and the far-right League, was formed after nobody had a clear majority in the Italian parliament in the last election and many of his coalition partners are clamoring for a change in country’s foreign policy and closer ties with Russia. Conte, however, decided to back the recent Brussel’s extension of sanctions for another six months.
Prime Minister Conte is in Washington discussing the US-EU trade relations. The date for the start of trade talks between the European Union and the United States hasn’t been set yet and Conte has urged both sides to begin as soon as possible.
“I believe that this understanding is fundamental and we have to work on it immediately, bringing our efforts to make sure European, American, Italian citizens receive the benefit of a more equitable trade relationship which is completely reciprocal,” Conte said Monday.