Donald Trump says he will not take lightly Russia’s continued provocative actions toward the US military.
In a Wednesday interview with Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee said he would not tolerate Russian military fighters “buzzing” US warships and planes, incidents that are occurring with increasing frequency of late.
“First of all, he has no respect for our president and our country. He is tweaking us,” Trump said of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“If it were me, I would call him and say ‘Don’t do it. Just stop it. Don’t do it.’ They’re going to respect us,” he added.
Citing his “semi-nice” relationship with Putin, Trump said that he would “hate” to shoot down Russian planes that fly too close to US ships. But he left the door open to the possibility if the Russian president didn’t heed his call to “back down.”
“They do it again, they’re going to have a problem,” Trump said.
He added: “I may have to do something which you would hate to do. It’s something I wouldn’t want to do, but I would say ‘Vladimir, don’t do it.'”
Under Putin, the Russian military has increasingly been willing to push the boundaries of provocation against the US and other Western countries during unwarranted military simulations.
“Buzzing” and other aggressive postures pose little apparent outright threat to the US — many of the Russian fighters that buzz US warships are unarmed. But they have become part of a deliberate Russian strategy to demonstrate a willingness to engage in confrontation.
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