In his last public remarks as national security adviser, Lt. Gen. HR McMaster offered harsh words for Russia Tuesday during a speech at the Atlantic Council in Washington DC.
“We have failed to impose sufficient costs” on Russia, McMaster said at the event, which also included a Q&A with the Presidents of Estonia and Latvia, as well as the Foreign Minister of Lithuania.
He added that the failure to impose adequate costs on Russia’s activities meant that “the Kremlin’s confidence is growing.”
“Russia has used old and new forms of aggression to undermine our open societies,” McMaster said.
“For too long some nations have looked the other way,” McMaster said, cataloging what he said were a series of actions by Russia that warranted condemnation, including cyberattacks against the US and its NATO allies, and unsafe intercepts of US and NATO military forces.
However, McMaster also praised the Trump administration’s response to Russia, particularly the coordinated expulsion of diplomats in response to the incident in Salisbury UK.
McMaster said the expelled diplomats helped “orchestrate” Russian interference in the US and the expulsion of intelligence personnel and closure of the Seattle consulate would hinder Russia’s ability to spread propaganda, disinformation and interfere in US elections.
“In the United States President Trump ordered the removal of dozens of Russian intelligence officers and the closure of the Russian consulate in Seattle. This action will also help protect our democratic institutions and processes as these Russian officers orchestrate Russia’s sustained campaign or propaganda, disinformation and political subversion,” he said.
The outgoing national security adviser warned against those in the US who would “glamorize and apologize” for rogue regimes like Russia.
He also said Trump has “repeatedly told the truth about these murderous regimes.”
“Mr. Putin may believe he is winning in this new form of warfare…perhaps he believed that our free nations are weak and will not respond,” McMaster said.
“He is wrong. Russian aggression is strengthening our resolve and our confidence.”
Former US ambassador and Fox News analyst John Bolton replaces McMaster as national security adviser next week.