(WASHINGTON) — U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said “there’s no love” between the United States and Russia, adding that she is “beating up” on Russia even as investigations in Washington scrutinize possible links between the country and associates of President Trump.
“There’s no love or anything going on with Russia right now,” Haley told ABC News’ Martha Raddatz in an interview that aired Sunday on This Week. “They get that we’re getting our strength back, that we’re getting our voice back and that we’re starting to lead again.”
Raddatz asked Haley about the apparent difference between her tough words about Russia and Trump’s attitude toward the country and its president, Vladimir Putin.
Trump during the presidential campaign called Putin a stronger leader than then-President Obama. He also publicly expressed “respect” for Putin during a Fox News interview in February. When asked about allegations that Putin has had political opponents killed, Trump responded: “There are a lot of killers. We’ve got a lot of killers. What do you think? Our country’s so innocent?” The president has also dismissed as “fake news” allegations of ties between Russia and his associates.
“He isn’t beating up on Russia,” Raddatz said to Haley on This Week, asking: “Should he be beating up on Russia?”
“I am beating up on Russia,” Haley replied. “[The president] has got a lot of things he’s doing, but he is not stopping me from beating up on Russia … He’s not stopping me on how we’re working together [with Russia] to defeat ISIS.”
Raddatz continued, “President Trump has said he respects Putin, but you say you don’t trust him.”
“I don’t,” Haley responded, adding, “President Trump has agreed, and this administration agrees, that Russia’s involvement in Ukraine is wrong.”
“The president has not once called me and said, ‘Don’t beat up on Russia’ — has not once called me and told me what to say,” she said.
“Look, he’s the president,” Haley told Raddatz. “He can say what he wants, whenever he wants. But the direction we’ve gotten is to do our jobs, make sure that the United States is strong and that’s what we’ll do.”
Haley said that the U.S. is holding Russia accountable on issues around Syria, Iran and human rights violations.
Speaking broadly about her work at the U.N., where she will on Monday take over the rotating presidency of the Security Council, Haley said: “This is not about keeping countries happy. This is about keeping the United States strong and, in order to do that, we have to have the backs of our allies. We have to call out wrongs when we see them … We’re going to say what we think, and we’re going to move the ball and that’s what this is about.”
Haley also emphasized that the U.S. is putting pressure on China to get neighboring North Korea to end its nuclear program.
The United States should “no longer take the excuses from China that ‘they’re concerned,'” she said. “They need to show us how concerned they are … The only country that can stop North Korea is China, and they know that.”
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