President Donald Trump has said that he’s “not interested in any military assistance” to Russia as part of a broad strategy to improve ties with the former Soviet nation, but has repeatedly said that it’s his “greatest desire” to improve relations with Moscow.
Trump, who spoke at a White House news conference on Wednesday morning, was responding to reports in the media that Russia was considering sending some of its forces into Syria to help the Syrian government.
Trump said that was a “very, very serious threat” and that “we’re going to make it very clear that we have no intention of sending troops into Syria.”
Trump has said he’s concerned that Russian President Vladimir Putin is trying to destabilize the Middle East region by trying to topple Syrian President Bashar Assad.
The White House says that Trump has repeatedly called for the U.S. to “disengage” from the Middle Eastern region.
On Tuesday, Trump said in a statement that “I don’t have the slightest idea what’s going on with Syria and I’m not in a position to tell you what’s happening there.”
“It’s very important for us to have a clear understanding of the situation in Syria and the role Russia and China have played in this war, in order to determine the extent of the threat to our national security,” Trump said.
A report published Tuesday by the Washington Post, citing a U.N. official and Syrian opposition sources, said Russia was planning to send some troops into the country, and the move could be part of the Kremlin’s broader push to bolster its military.
The report said Russian President Vladimir Putin will “seek to further bolster his troops’ presence in Syria, including by sending them to Syria to conduct military operations there, to support the Syrian army’s offensive against the rebels.”
The U.K. Foreign Secretary said Tuesday that Russia had sent some troops to Syria, as well as to other countries, and that they could also be used against the U-S.
“They could very well be deployed to attack the U!
and its allies, and I don’t know how they’ll get out of there without a fight,” Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said.
Russia is the only country to have sent troops to the conflict in Syria.
Johnson told a news conference that “it is important to point out that this is the first time since the end of the Cold War that Russia has been deployed to Syria,” and that Russia’s presence there is a sign of its determination to help in the fight against the Islamic State group.