In a strange disconnect between messages from government leaders, U.S. Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats warned of Kremlin attempts to break up Western alliances and interfere in midterm elections just as President Donald Trump was stumping for Russia to again be part of the Group of Seven.
Russia launched an “unprecedented influence campaign to interfere in the U.S. electoral and political process” in 2016, Coats said Friday at a conference in Normandy, France, co-sponsored by the Washington-based Atlantic Council think tank. “We continue to see Russian targeting of American society in ways that could affect our midterm elections.”
Russia has also interfered in elections in France, Germany, Norway, Spain and Ukraine, he said.
“These Russian actions are purposeful and premeditated and they represent an all-out assault by [Russian President] Vladimir Putin on the rule of law, Western ideals and democratic norms,” Coats said, The New York Times reported.
Coats also warned that Russia is bent on busting up the transatlantic alliance.
“Vladimir Putin says he wants a united and prosperous Europe [but] invading Ukraine, seizing Crimea, attacking individuals in the U.K. with nerve agents, conducting cyber-attacks against multiple EU countries... do not strike me as unifying actions,” he said.
Trump, meanwhile, on the same day said Russia should be readmitted to the G-7. The group of the world’s leading industrial nations, which includes the U.S., expelled Russia after that country annexed Crimea in 2014.
“I have been Russia’s worst nightmare,” Trump boasted to reporters on the White’s South Lawn before departing to a G-7 meeting in Canada. “But with that being said, Russia should be in this meeting,” he said.
Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Saturday that readmitting Russia was “not something we are even remotely looking at.”