Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is drawing a hard line against easing U.S. sanctions against Russia, issuing a stern warning on the eve of President Donald Trump’s first official communication with Russian leader Vladimir Putin since he was formally inaugurated last week.

 

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“I’m against lifting any sanctions on the Russians. These sanctions were imposed because of their behavior in Crimea, eastern Ukraine and now we know they’ve been messing around in our elections as well,” McConnell said in an interview with POLITICO on Friday. “If there’s any country in the world that doesn’t deserve sanctions relief, it’s Russia.”

 

Earlier Friday, during his first formal press conference at the White House, Trump left open the door to easing sanctions, saying merely that “we’ll see what happens, as far as the sanctions. Very early to be talking about that.” White House counselor Kellyanne Conway also said earlier Friday that lifting executive branch sanctions is “under consideration.”