New U.S. sanctions against Russia are coming as soon as Monday to punish the country for its support of the Syrian regime, Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said Sunday.
“You will see that Russian sanctions will be coming down,” Haley said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
“They will go directly to any sort of companies that were dealing with equipment related to (Syrian President Bashar al) Assad and chemical weapons use. And so I think everyone is going to feel it at this point. I think everyone knows that we sent a strong message.”
The United States, Britain and France launched airstrikes Friday night against Syrian research, storage and military sites after the Assad regime was blamed for a chemical weapons attack that killed dozens of civilians.
The U.S. has vowed to also squeeze Syria’s allies Russia and Iran.
“We wanted their friends Iran and Russia to know that we meant business and that they were going to be feeling the pain from this as well,” Haley said.
The ambassador said the missile attack set back Syria’s chemical weapons capacity by years, and pushed back against critics who said the one-time strikes did little to change the situation on the ground.
“This was very strong attack on the chemical weapons program. We were not looking for war. That’s the last thing the President wanted was war. We were not looking to kill people,” she said. “This was not muscle flexing. We set their chemical weapons program back years…Our job was never to take Assad out. Our job was never to start a war.”
But Haley said the U.S. would not pull its troops out of Syria — despite vows by President Trump to bring the military home — until its goals are accomplished.
That means an end to chemical weapons usage, the complete defeat of ISIS in Syria, and curbing Iranian influence in the area.
Trump has told military commanders to quickly wrap up operations so he can bring the about 2,000 troops on the ground home within a few months, but Haley insisted there was no deadline.
“We haven’t said that we’re going to bring them home in six months. What we are saying is at some point we want to see our military come home,” she said.
On Sunday, French President Emmanuel Macron took credit for convincing Trump to change his mind about pulling out of Syria.
“Ten days ago, President Trump was saying the United States of America had a duty to disengage from Syria,” Macron said, according to AFP.
Air missile fire is seen over Damascus after a U.S. attack on Syria on April 14.
“We convinced him it was necessary to stay,” the French leader added. “I assure you, we have convinced him that it is necessary to stay for the long-term.”
Sen. Tim Kaine, also appearing on “Face the Nation,” slammed the air strikes as illegal and reckless without approval from Congress.
“It’s very, very clear Congress has the power to declare war and only Congress,” said Kaine (D-Va.). “President Trump is not a king. He’s a President. He’s supposed to come to Congress to seek permission to initiate a war.”
Kaine said the Syrian operations lack a clear strategy.
“It’s illegal because he didn’t come and ask permission,” he said.
“It’s reckless because as you pointed out there isn’t a strategy,” Kaine added. “We need to defeat ISIS. But we heard different things from the administration. Are we staying there now to topple Assad, to counter Iran, to check Russia, to help the Kurds, to buttress Israel, to rebuild our relationships with Turkey? They haven’t laid out a strategy and military action shouldn’t be taken as a one off. It should be taken as part of a strategy.”
A day after the bombardment, Assad appeared briefly on state TV and told a group of visiting Russian lawmakers that the U.S. and its allies were spreading “lies and misinformation” against Syria.
He said Russia and Syria are united in trying “to protect international law based on respect of the sovereignty of countries and the wills of people.”
Russia and Iran have called the strikes a “military crime” and “act of aggression.” The Kremlin said in a statement that Russian President Vladimir Putin and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani spoke by phone and agreed that the Western airstrikes were an “illegal action … adversely impacting prospects for political settlement in Syria.”
Putin called the military action a violation of the UN Charter and warned that if it continues, “it will inevitably entail chaos in international relations,” according to the statement.
And the Iranian leader called the strikes an “invasion” aimed at “emboldening defeated terrorists,” according to the country’s official IRNA news agency.
With News Wire Services