US President-elect Donald Trump has expressed willingness to remove harsh economic sanctions against Russia if it cooperates with the United States in efforts such as counterterrorism, according to a report.
Trump told The Wall Street Journal on Friday that he plans to keep sanctions imposed on Russia by the outgoing Obama administration in response to the alleged Russian intervention in the 2016 presidential election “at least for a period of time.”
But Trump said that sanctions would not be required if Moscow helped Washington in other ways.
“If you get along and if Russia is really helping us, why would anybody have sanctions if somebody’s doing some really great things?” the president-elect asked.
Trump also spoke of meeting with senior Russian officials, including President Vladimir Putin after he is sworn in as the 45th president of the United States on January 20.
“I understand that they would like to meet, and that’s absolutely fine with me,” he said.
Last month, the Obama administration announced a series of economic sanctions against Russia, as well as expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats, over allegations that it interfered in the US election through cyberattacks.
Earlier this week, the outgoing administration imposed sanctions on five prominent Russians, including a close aide to Putin.
The US Treasury Department announced on Monday that the sanctions were meant to punish Russia over what it called human rights abuses.
Trump’s senior aide Kellyanne Conway has denounced Obama’s decision to impose harsh economic sanctions against Russia.
She has suggested that President Obama took these measure against Russia in order to “box in” Trump over the country when he takes office.
Washington and its allies had already levied broad economic sanctions against Russia and blacklisted dozens of its citizens after Moscow’s alleged involvement in the Ukraine conflict.
Ties between the US and Russia further deteriorated when Moscow in 2015 launched an air offensive against Daesh terrorists in Syria, many of whom were initially trained by the CIA to fight against the Syrian government.