US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley slammed Russia at the GOP retreat in West Virginia on Thursday, definitively telling Republican lawmakers that Moscow “is not, will not, be our friend.”
“As long as their government has the values that it has, and as long as it conducts itself the way it does internationally,” Haley said.
Haley made it very clear that Russia meddled in the 2016 US election but also noted that “there is no reason to think the Russian interference made any difference between who won and lost.”
“The very fact that they did it is an outrageous thing, and something the administration is taking steps to prevent in the future,” Haley said.
While President Donald Trump has expressed consistent skepticism over Russian election meddling efforts, Haley has raised the issue on several occasions, calling Russian cyber-interference in American elections “warfare” in October.
On Thursday, Haley transitioned from the issue of election interference to praising the Trump administration’s actions on Russia.
“With all the talk that goes on about Russia and its role in our elections, one huge fact has gone massively overlooked,” Haley said.
“That fact is this: In the last year, this administration has been tougher on Russia than any American administration since Ronald Reagan,” she said, calling out Moscow for protecting “Iran against more vigorous nuclear inspections,” continuing to “illegally occupy Ukrainian territory” and supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
“Russia is the defender of Assad’s brutal regime in Syria, aiding and abetting atrocities against Syrian civilians, and vetoing every effort at the UN to hold Assad accountable,” she noted.
Haley also noted that the US has conducted successful strikes in Syria, sent advanced weapons to Ukraine, “expanded” sanctions on Russia, expelled Russian diplomats from the US, rebuilt the military and “massively expanded our domestic energy sector.”
“Russia hates all of those moves, and most of them did not exist before this administration,” she said. “I have no idea what Russia expected from the American elections, but I gotta tell you, they are not happy with what they ended up with!”
“And that’s the way it should be, until Russia starts to act like a responsible country,” Haley noted.
CNN’s Michelle Kosinski contributed to this report