NEW YORK — President Donald Trump on Friday praised Russia for its “tough stance” in the Syrian civil war, saying he would be “tougher” with Moscow than his predecessor.
Trump’s comments were made during a White House briefing with reporters, who asked if Trump had decided to use military force to prevent the Syrian government from using chemical weapons on civilians.
The U.S. military has confirmed that it has conducted more than 100 air strikes against the Assad regime and the Islamic State group since Trump took office.
But Trump was asked whether he had decided that Russia would be the one to launch a war that would lead to the United States and its allies losing millions of lives.
Trump said he had.
“We’ll see what happens.
You know, we’ll see, and it will depend on what happens in Syria.
But it’s not good,” Trump said.
“The way that Russia is behaving is very, very, bad.
And I don’t want to get into that.
It’s very, a very tough position.”
Trump’s remarks came during a briefing with his national security advisers.
The president was asked about the possibility of launching a military strike against Russia.
“I don’t know, but I will tell you what, I will get tougher on Russia.
We will see,” Trump replied.
“You’re going to have to watch for yourself,” Trump added.
“But we’re gonna have to get tough.
And that will be a tough deal.”
He also said he is considering military options, including airstrikes.
Trump has said he wants to strike Syria from U.s. territory and to target Russian forces and people in the region.
The Syrian government has denied using chemical gas on civilians, and Russian President Vladimir Putin said he has “no reason to doubt the U.N. conclusion.”
Trump has also said the U,S.
and Russia have failed to negotiate a ceasefire in Syria, and that the U.,S.
should “be the one that gets tough.”
Trump said Friday that the administration is “looking at a number of options,” including military action, but he added that “we’re going forward with our strategy.”
The administration has said that the use of chemical weapons by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his Russian allies against Syrian civilians will be one of the main reasons for the U and Russia’s war against him.
“It is clear, from a military standpoint, it’s a very, you know, very dangerous situation,” Trump told reporters.
“And the military options that we have are much more than military.
You have the diplomatic options, you have the economic options, we have the humanitarian options, and you have a variety of things that we can do to try to stop this, but it’s something that is very serious.”
Asked whether he would seek to intervene militarily, Trump said, “We will see what’s going to happen.
I’ll have to see what the outcome is.”
In February, Trump threatened to use the military to remove Assad from power, and he has repeatedly called for the ouster of Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose country has repeatedly targeted Syrian civilians.
Trump also has said Putin and the Kremlin are trying to overthrow him.
Trump is set to visit Russia this week and will also host a meeting of the Group of Seven nations in Sicily.